Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family, fat-soluble pigments found in plants. This particular carotenoid is a red pigment which can be found in red plants like tomatoes and is one of the major carotenoids consumed in Northern America and Europe. It is found mostly in high concentration in the adrenal glands, testes and the prostate and its levels in the body begin to decline as we age.
Tomato based foods have high levels of lycopene and have been linked to lowering the risk of developing prostate cancer.4In 1995, Harvard conducted a one year study to test the link between diet and prostate cancer; the results showed that men who ate more lycopene rich products like tomatoes and tomato paste had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Lycopene has been shown to promote heart health by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and reducing inflammation. Studies done at Harvard University have shown that eating seven or more tomatoes or tomato based products a week can lower one’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease by at least 30 percent.
There has not been enough research to determine the exact daily recommended intake. Factors such as age, health, and any medical conditions would influence the daily intake. It has been proven safe to take 30 mg supplements up to 8 weeks daily.
There is not enough research for information on lycopene deficiencies.
Sources in the Diet
Lycopene is found naturally in plants, fruits and vegetables with red pigment. Some good sources include tomatoes, tomato paste or juice, watermelon and ketchup.
Recent Studies and Articles
Lycopene and preventing strokes
Lycopene and preventing colon cancer
Lycopene in orange tomatoes
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