In North America, 85% of the dietary lycopene comes from the tomato products such as tomato juice and paste. It is equally easy for the body to use the lycopene present in both, the supplements and food. This article provides information on the sources, benefits, and side effects of the supplements.
Lycopene is a pigment found in fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and tomatoes; which gives them their characteristic red color. The fruits and vegetables rich in this compound have strong antioxidant properties. Research suggests that people consuming these foods are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer. This pigment is also available in the form of supplements, which are available in any health store.
This compound is not found naturally in the body; however, it can be obtained by consuming the supplements or the foods rich in this compound. Tomato contains high content of this compound, thus, it can be used in the preparation of pizza sauce, ketchup, tomato juice, and spaghetti sauce. If fresh tomatoes are not preferred, this compound can also be obtained via processed tomato foods, especially, when it’s cooked. In fact, the cooking process weakens the cell walls, thereby, making it easier for the body to absorb it. Compared to four raw tomatoes, the compound is high in half a cup of spaghetti sauce. The ideal daily intake of the compound by the body is 20 milligrams. Pink grapefruit and watermelon are also rich in this compound, however, the content is less as compared to tomatoes.
There are several benefits of this compound, however, the most excellent is its antioxidant properties. It is believed to be a potent antioxidant in the carotenoid family. Antioxidants are compounds which help in protecting the body from the damage caused by the free radicals. They are essential, as free radicals are generated by the body very rapidly. These are highly reactive and can damage cells at a very fast pace, leading to several health-related problems such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and premature aging. Limited studies on the supplement suggest its antioxidant benefits, however, most trials were conducted on the levels of compound in the body or focused on tomatoes or tomato-based products, rather than on the supplements. Thus, not enough evidence have been put forth by the researchers to substantiate the potential effects of this compound alone.
It is believed that rapid growth of cancer cells can be prevented by consuming the aforementioned foods, especially in case of prostate cancer. Additionally, it is also helpful in preventing other types of cancer like cancer of the lungs, stomach, breasts, pancreas, rectum, colon, and esophagus. This compound has been studied for the prevention of prostate cancer, with mixed results. There is a lack of strong evidence to support the anti-cancer properties of this compound.
It is also considered to bear properties to reduce asthma induced by exercise, high levels of cholesterol, and the chances of developing clogged arteries. However, the link between the consumption of this compound and lower risk of coronary artery disease is yet to be established. The existing research have conflicting results and most studies use mixed ingredient therapies.
Though there are no known side effects of this compound, yet there have been some instances of allergic reactions. It is advised that pregnant women should not consume foods rich in this compound, even though there are no concrete scientific evidence to prove that it has any adverse effects. In some cases, the consumption of this compound has resulted in bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. If consumed over a long period of time, people have experienced reactions such as skin color changing to orange, while once discontinued, the skin regains its original color after about three weeks.
If this compound is consumed along with foods rich in beta-carotene, they may have adverse effects on the body. Some studies in the recent past have suggested that this compound can increase the effects of cholesterol lowering drugs such as lovastatin. It is best to consult the doctor before the consumption of these supplements, especially if a person is already on medications.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.