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Learning About Lycopene

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I've been hearing a lot about lycopene latel.

  "I've been hearing a lot about lycopene lately. What is it? Why is it good for me and how should I incorporate it into my diet?"
Venket Rao, PhD:

Lycopene is the most potent natural carotenoid antioxidant present in many fruits and vegetables. We do not produce lycopene ourselves and depend entirely on dietary sources for our daily requirement. Tomatoes and tomato products constitute the major source of dietary lycopene. Other sourcesinclude nutritional supplements and herbal preparations.

Oxidative stress is now recognized as an important factor in the causation of many chronic diseases. Both normal metabolic activity and lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking contribute to the production of highly reactive free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can react with critical cellular components such as lipids, proteins and DNA and bring about cellular damage.

Although we have natural defence mechanisms in our bodies to mitigate the damaging effects of ROS, when such defences are overwhelmed, chronic diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes are increased. Many studies around the world indicate that populations consuming significant amounts of fruits and vegetables containing lycopene show lower risk of such chronic diseases. Higher blood lycopene levels have been linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers of the prostate, breast, cervix and ovaries.

Other studies show a beneficial relationship between the consumption of lycopene and the incidence of osteoporosis, hypertension and prostate cancer. Since convincing scientific evidence supports the beneficial properties of lycopene, a daily intake level of five to 10 milligrams is recommended. You can obtain this level of lycopene intake either through dietary sources such as tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon and pink grapefruit, or as nutritional supplements in the form of soft gel capsules, tablets and herbal preparations such as greens drinks.

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