June 17, 2024
Tomato Lycopene

Tomato Lycopene: A Powerful Antioxidant in Nature

Tomatoes are one of the most popular and widely consumed fruits around the world. Apart from their delicious taste, tomatoes are also packed with various health benefiting nutrients and plant compounds. One such powerful compound found in tomatoes is lycopene, which gives tomatoes their characteristic red color.

What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. It belongs to the carotenoid family of antioxidants, which also includes beta-carotene and lutein Tomato Lycopene is a highly unsaturated hydrocarbon and is non-vitamin A carotenoid. Structurally, lycopene is an open-chain polyunsaturated hydrocarbon made up of forty carbon atoms and contains eleven conjugated double bonds with no functional groups. This molecular structure makes lycopene one of the most potent antioxidants known.

Health Benefits of Lycopene

Cancer Prevention

Various studies have linked higher tomato and lycopene intake to reduced risk of certain cancers, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene’s antioxidant properties help in preventing DNA damage caused by free radicals, thereby potentially stopping cancer development and progression. Higher lycopene levels are also associated with reduced risks of cancers of the lung, stomach, pancreas, breast and endometrium.

Heart Health

Lycopene provides various heart health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Research shows lycopene helps lower LDL oxidation, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and prevents damage to blood vessel lining. This subsequently reduces risks of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Lycopene intake is also linked to decreased hazards of coronary heart disease.

Skin Health

As a powerful antioxidant, lycopene protects skin from harmful sun UV rays induced oxidative stress and damage. It may help reduce risk of sunburns and signs of premature skin aging like wrinkles and age spots when applied topically. Lycopene supports collagen production in skin for elasticity. Some research also links adequate lycopene levels to reduced risk of non-melanoma skin cancers.

Brain Health

Studies suggest lycopene may counter oxidative stress in the brain linked to neurological conditions. Higher lycopene levels appear to be protective against age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Additionally, lycopene intake plays a role in reducing stroke risks through cardio-protective effects. Promising research links lycopene consumption to reduced depression risks as well.

Eye Health

Lycopene is an important nutrient for maintaining eye health and preventing vision problems due to oxidative damage by blue light exposure and free radicals. Research suggests lycopene may reduce risks of cataracts, macular degeneration and other age-related eye diseases. It is a powerful antioxidant for supporting retinal cell health. Lycopene intake is linked to better vision into old age.

Sources of Tomato Lycopene

While tomatoes are considered the best source of lycopene, there are a few other fruits and vegetables that contain decent amounts of this beneficial antioxidant as well:

– Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes, tomato products like sauce, paste, ketchup contain high lycopene levels, especially when cooked. Heating and processing helps release more lycopene from plant cell membranes.

– Watermelon – Other than tomatoes, watermelon is the next biggest natural source of lycopene. Both the red flesh and rind contain lycopene.

– Pink Grapefruit – Some types of pink or red grapefruits provide a good amount of lycopene per serving for heart and skin support.

– Guava – Tropical fruits like red guava are rich in lycopene and various other antioxidants and vitamins.

– Papaya – Ripe papaya flesh, especially red varieties have lycopene levels comparable to tomatoes ounce per ounce.

– Pink Orange Peppers – Specialty sweet heirloom peppers like red bell or orange habaneros have antioxidant lycopene.

– Tomato Products – Vegetable juices, tomato sauces, soups and kits made from premium tomatoes preserve natural lycopene content.

Absorption and Food Combinations

For optimal tomato lycopene absorption and utilization in the body, it is recommended to consume lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes with healthy fats or oils. Cooking tomatoes, especially with olive or coconut oil helps release more bioavailable lycopene. Additionally, adding a dash of black pepper when eating tomatoes enhances lycopene absorption due to piperine it contains. Foods high in dietary fiber and vitamin C along with lycopene rich products further support antioxidant assimilation in the gut and tissues. Proper food combinations especially with oils is key to better reap lycopene’s benefits.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it