Lycopene Offers A Number Of Health Benefits

At a recent conference, sponsored by the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy (CFNP) at Virginia Technical Institute, in Washington, D.C., researchers reported that they are finding more health benefits of lycopene, a pigment that gives many fruits and vegetables their red color.

Previous research has found that the benefits of lycopene appear to affect parts of the body where lycopene concentration is highest, such as in the prostate gland. New research suggests a potential benefit for bone and skin health and male infertility.

Lycopene is an antioxidant, which appears to prevent the formation of harmful by-products of metabolism called free radicals. Free radicals are thought to be responsible for damaging the body’s cells, as well as their genetic makeup, leading to certain chronic diseases.

Lycopene is readily available in tomatoes, tomato sauces, watermelon, and other red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene absorption is enhanced when tomatoes are heated, especially in combination with olive oil or other fats, making processed tomato products like tomato sauce and paste excellent sources of the nutrient. Lycopene is also available as a dietary supplement in a single-nutrient form and some multivitamins.

Scientists agree more research is needed to determine lycopene’s true preventative potential and to learn whether lycopene works best as a single nutrient, or in synergy with other nutrients naturally found in food. In the meantime, adding lycopene to your diet may help fight free radicals and maintain long-term health.

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