Sunday, November 15, 2009

What is Lycopene>>>

One antioxidant in particular has received a lot of attention from researchers in recent years. Lycopene is a pigment that gives vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon, their red color. It also appears to have strong antioxidant capabilities. Several studies suggest that consumption of foods rich in lycopene is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In a 1995 Harvard University study conducted with 47,894 men, researchers found that eating 10 or more servings a week of tomato products was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer by as much as 34 percent.

The protective effect of antioxidants on heart disease has been well documented. In a recently published study, men who had the highest amount of lycopene in their body fat were half as likely to suffer a heart attack as those with the least amount of lycopene in their body fat. Researchers have determined that the level of lycopene in body fat is an indicator of lycopene content in the diet.

Where do I find lycopene?
Lycopene is not produced in the body, so you can only obtain its benefits by eating foods rich in lycopene. Tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, ketchup and pizza sauce are, by far, the major sources of lycopene in the typical American diet. In fact, these foods provide over 80 percent of the lycopene consumed in the U.S. Other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and pink grapefruit also provide lycopene but in smaller amounts.

Lycopene is better absorbed by the body when it is consumed in processed tomato products, rather than fresh tomatoes. The reason for this remains unclear. In one study lycopene was absorbed 2.5 times better from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. However, cooking fresh tomatoes with a little oil greatly increases lycopene absorption.

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