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Home > News > Lycopene: A Little Known Powerful Antioxidant
Lycopene: A Little Known Powerful Antioxidant

by Jennifer Good

 

This week's healthy ingredient, lycopene, is an antioxidant compound and the natural pigment that is responsible for the deep color of several fruits like tomatoes and watermelon. Derived as a supplement primarily from tomatoes (cooked, not raw), lycopene appears to be one of the best defenses against prostate cancer and bladder cancer. When used in conjunction with vitamin E and green tea extract, studies indicate that it inhibits prostate cancer proliferation by some 90%.


While a member of the carotenoid family, lycopene does not get converted into vitamin A as does beta carotene. This means the health benefits of lycopene are attributed to its powerful antioxidant actions. In fact, laboratory experiments indicate that lycopene is a more effective antioxidant than other carotenoids, including beta-carotene.


We may have been eating tomatoes for centuries; however, our fascination with lycopene is fairly recent comparatively. In spite of the short history, scientists have been able to amass quite a significant amount of research that supports the role of lycopene in human health. Its more specific roles include helping the prevention of cancers of the prostate, pancreas, stomach, breast, cervix and lung, as well as in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cataracts.2 As an antioxidant, lycopene's primary benefit is its ability to help protect your cells from free radicals. So if you want to add another powerful antioxidant to your diet, reach for your favorite red fruits! Although tomatoes may have the highest dose of lycopene, you'll also find it in pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava.