Now you have another reason to eat fruits and vegetables particularly tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, papaya and grapefruits, for the pigment called lycopene. This nutrient, which is naturally occurring in these fruits, is an antioxidant that protects the body from the damages caused by the free radicals in the body. Researchers have always known that lycopene has health benefits but when they studied more about it, they found out that it's even more beneficial than most of them originally thought.
Lycopene and Cancer
Lycopene fights off many diseases but the one most significantly noted is the deadly disease of cancer. Health experts recommend a diet high in lycopene as a preventive measure for various forms of cancer. This works because of lycopene's antioxidant properties. Cancer cells form when exposed to free radicals. By acting as a line of defense and also by improving the strength of normal cells, cancer can be prevented.
One form of cancer that lycopene fights off is breast cancer. According to studies done by Dr. Edward Giovannuci of Harvard Medical School, lycopene can interrupt the formation of breast tumor cells. It also inhibits the spread of these tumors. It also does the same thing and more for other types of cancer including prostate, skin, lung, stomach and cervix.
Skin is put at risk whenever you are exposed to harmful UV rays from the sun. UV rays do not only cause premature aging but also cellular damage and skin cancer. Lycopene helps by limiting the damage inflicted by UV rays on the skin. It also protects the skin from other harmful pollutants in the atmosphere including chemicals. Eating a diet rich in lycopene decreases the risk of skin cancer significantly.
For prostate cancer, lycopene works by reducing the levels of prostate-specific antigen in the body. This is a protein that is often found in elevated levels in patients suffering from prostate cancer. By reducing the level of this protein, it also decreases the risk of prostate cancer.
Lycopene also benefits the lungs. According to numerous studies, lung cancer occurs less frequently in people who consumed diets that are rich in lycopene, beta-carotene, and alpha carotene.
Another major health problem that lycopene can prevent is heart disease. Lycopene protects the body from this ailment by breaking down the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the bad cholesterol that leads to cardiovascular diseases.
Apart from this, lycopene can also benefit asthma patients. Those with exercise-induced asthma can be protected from asthma attacks by taking in at least 30 mg of lycopene supplement a day.
Increase your intake of lycopene to protect yourself from different kinds of diseases. Just make sure that you do not rely solely on lycopene but rather incorporate this into a well-balanced diet that includes various important nutrients that the body needs to thrive.