Lycopene: benefits, side effects and interactions

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Lycopene is a naturally occurring compound found in bright red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit. Lycopene is a carotenoid, which is a yellow, orange, or red pigment that gives plants this color. Lycopene has been linked to many health benefits, including disease prevention and protection.

Tomato products contain the highest amounts of lycopene and tomato sauce, and tomato juice and pizza sauce are considered the highest sources of lycopene in the average diet of a person living in the United States, accounting for 80 percent of the population's lycopene intake.

What is lycopene used for?

One of the greatest benefits of lycopene is that it is an antioxidant and protects the body from damage caused by free radicals that can damage DNA and other cell structures.

The antioxidant properties help balance free radical activity in the body, while they can provide protection against certain diseases, keep bones strong and healthy, and improve vision, helping to delay or prevent cataracts , macular degeneration, and other age-related eye conditions.

Lycopene and cancer

While more research is needed, previous research has established a link between lycopene and cancer prevention. Due to its antioxidant profile, lycopene can stop cancer growth and build up enzymes in the body that help break down cancer-causing agents.

While there is no documented evidence that lycopene can treat cancer, it has been linked to one of the factors that can help reduce the risk of cancer, particularly breast , lung , and prostate cancers .

It is also important to note that cancer prevention is enhanced by eating all fruits and vegetables, not just lycopene.

Heart health

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, in addition to its antioxidant properties, lycopene can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol .

It may also be associated with those with more lycopene in their tissues and a lower risk of heart attack , blockage or blockage of the arteries, lower blood pressure, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Other health benefits

While cancer prevention and cardiovascular risk reduction are some of the two greatest potential benefits of lycopene, a carotenoid may have additional benefits if someone is on a diet rich in lycopene.

A study published in the journal Neurology found that lycopene can help prevent strokes , especially those caused by blood clots. Researchers believe this is because lycopene not only reduces inflammation but also improves cholesterol levels. Career.

Lycopene, along with other carotenoids, can also protect against ultraviolet radiation caused by the sun. However, it is important to note that lycopene cannot (and should not) replace SPF.

Some studies have shown that the presence of lycopene in foods or supplements can cause less burning and irritation from the sun's rays.

Possible side effects.

When consumed, lycopene is safe for everyone. Eating excessive amounts of lycopene can lead to a condition called lycopenemia, which is an orange or red discoloration of the skin. The condition itself is harmless and resolves on a low lycopene diet.

Avoid being pregnant

Lycopene is available in supplement form, but should be avoided by pregnant or lactating people, as some studies have shown that daily supplementation increases the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight.

More risks

Lycopene can also increase the risk of bleeding with certain medications such as aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners), antiplatelet medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The same goes for the mixture of lycopene and herbs that can increase bleeding, such as ginkgo biloba.

Those who take medication for low blood pressure should not take lycopene, as it can further lower blood pressure.

Avoid mixing with herbs that fight asthma, cancer, anti-inflammatory herbs, herbs that lower cholesterol, herbs that promote fertility, supplements and herbs for the heart, stomach or lungs, immune system, nervous system, and herbs and supplements that help prevent bones. lost.

Certain supplements, such as beta-carotene, calcium, and lutein, when taken with lycopene can reduce the amount of lycopene absorbed from the intestines. Chronic excessive use of alcohol can also cause side effects of lycopene, reducing its effectiveness in protecting against disease.

Get Drug Information / Anastasia Tretyak

Dosage and preparation

Lycopene from food sources does not have a set recommended dose. The average person consumes about 2 milligrams (mg) per day with food. This is not enough to take advantage of the antioxidant properties, as research has shown that people with high blood pressure who consume 12 mg of lycopene per day have lower blood pressure levels.

If you're taking lycopene for high blood pressure, 15 mg of tomato extract (such as LycoMato) a day for six to eight weeks may help.

However, always make sure to check with your doctor before adding regular supplements to your diet.

What to look for

While getting lycopene from your diet is the easiest way, it's important to make sure you're eating enough lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables to reap the health benefits it advertises.

The foods that contain the most lycopene are guavas, tomatoes, grapefruit, papaya, red bell peppers, persimmons, asparagus (even if they do not have the characteristic orange or red hue), purple cabbage, and mango.

Get the word of drug information

Since there isn't much research on lycopene supplementation, it's best to check with your doctor before taking lycopene out of your diet. If you are interested in doing this for health reasons, your healthcare professional will be able to review your complete medical history to see if the supplements are suitable for you, as well as to learn about possible interactions.

While many of the benefits associated with lycopene still need more research, the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables have been proven to prevent disease and boost your immune system. Be sure to eat a diet rich in these foods, including fruits and vegetables that are high in lycopene, to help your overall health.

Frequently asked questions

  • A fresh tomato can contain 0.88 to 7.74 milligrams of lycopene per 100 grams.

  • Watermelon contains approximately 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes. A cup and a half of watermelon contains 9 to 13 milligrams of lycopene.

  • The lycopene in tomato paste ranges from 25 to 150 milligrams per 100 grams.

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