If you like tomatoes, then chances are you like lycopene, whether or not you even know what lycopene is. Well, glad you asked. Lycopene is a red pigment that can be found in assorted red fruits and vegetables. That includes tomatoes, which, as strange as it may seem, have been classified as both a fruit and vegetable.
Once ingested, lycopene – a compound that has been shown to be an antioxidant, among other health-inducing properties – gets transported via the bloodstream, eventually to accumulate in the liver, adrenal glands, prostate, and colon, per livestrong.com. Lycopene is not produced naturally by your body, but if consumed to a high enough degree, it has been linked to as a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration, as well as other diseases.
Linking Lycopene to Tomatoes
It’s widely known that lycopene-bearing tomatoes can be found in many parts of the world as an integral part of a wide variety of cuisines, most notably in the Mediterranean region, per organicfacts.net. Cultivating and growing tomatoes is a relatively simple process, which is why untold thousands of homeowners across America typically include tomato plants among the veggies to be grown in their backyard gardens, making them a terrific food source.
Eating tomatoes in one form or another is almost a daily (and 100-percent delightful) event for millions of Americans. You can find them in a variety of foods such as tossed salads, pizzas, ketchup, and even beverages (anyone for a virgin Bloody Mary?). It’s no coincidence that the scientific name for tomatoes is Solanum lycopersicum, per organicfacts.net. Love yourself some tomatoes, and get healthier in the process.
Other Food Sources of Lycopene
Per naturalfoodseries.com, here are some other foods known to be well-fortified with lycopene:
- Watermelon. This just might be the No. 1 fruit to bite into during these sweltering days of summer. They are also rich in fiber and diuretic compounds.
- Pink grapefruit. Here’s a citrus fruit with lots of lycopene as well as vitamin C.
- Papaya. Maybe you’ve never eaten or ever seen any. Now is a good time to get acquainted with this yellow-red fruit.
- Pink guava. Perhaps another introduction is in order. A single serving of this fruit goes a long way in fortifying your lycopene supply.
Lycopene’s Health Benefits
Now what you’ve been waiting for – a summary of the health benefits linked to the consumption of lycopene. Be sure to discuss any of this with your physician or other licensed health-care professional before doing a lycopene deep dive:
- Bolsters the immune system. Lycopene has the capacity to stimulate our body’s defense mechanism, per naturalfoodseries.com.
- Reduces risk of stroke. It does this by inhibiting the creation of stroke-causing blood clots.
- Wards off osteoporosis. It is believed that a sufficient daily dose of consumed lycopene can help alleviate bone thinness and weakness, which can lead to osteoporosis.
- Controls cholesterol. Lycopene is said to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides, while also thwarting clogging of the arteries.
- Solve infertility issues. Per healthdiaries.com, research has linked the use of lycopene with increased sperm count in males with low fertility rates.
- Stimulate hair growth. It apparently is able to do this by promoting scalp health while also warding off scalp conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
- Protection against eye diseases. Lycopene has shown potential for thwarting age-related eye damage associated with macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Anti-aging properties. Per naturalfoodseries.com, your body converts consumed lycopene into a vitamin known as retinol, which has been linked to anti-aging by promoting melatonin and collagen production that enhances skin elasticity and overall condition. It can also help protect the skin from damaging UV-rays from the sun.
- Antioxidant properties. A carotenoid, lycopene is regarded as one of the most robust antioxidants in existence, protecting your cells from oxidative stress and strengthening cell membranes.