Lycopene is a nutrient from the carotenoid family that gives the reddish color to some foods like tomatoes. It has antioxidant powers and its consumption may be related to reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration, according to some studies.
Lycopene and its benefits to the body
Although lycopene is a carotenoid substance, it has no precursor activity of vitamin A, but is a potent antioxidant, which means it fights free radicals, which are unstable molecules associated with oxidative stress in cells, and are therefore linked to emergence of various diseases and premature aging if overproduced.
Smoking, overexposure to the sun, air pollution and stress are the most famous producers of free radicals in the body.
What is lycopene good for?
Its main function is to protect the body from these free radicals, which cause disease and aging. Some recent findings show that lycopene is an important ally in preventing prostate and lung cancer.
Lycopene is the most effective antioxidant. Its actions promote more strength, thickness and fluidity of cell membranes. They are the guardians of cells, responsible for sorting in and out of cells, allowing nutrients to enter, eliminating toxins and preventing disease.
The most lycopene-containing foods
To obtain the benefits of lycopene, it is recommended to consume foods containing large sources of lycopene, such as fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Here are eleven foods that contain this substance:
It is the main source of lycopene and can contain three times more lycopene when consumed cooked. Consuming tomatoes in pasta sauces, homemade ketchup or soup is an excellent way to increase the amount of lycopene in the body. When ripe, red-colored (Italian) tomatoes contain more lycopene than green tomatoes. Lycopene is fat soluble, meaning you need to consume tomatoes, their derivatives and other sources of lycopene with a small amount of olive oil or other types of fat to increase their absorption by the body.
2. Red chili
It is rich in vitamins C and A, as it is a lycopene-rich food, protects cell membranes, helps prevent cancer, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, improves heart health and improves vision..
Although not the typical reddish color of carotenoids, asparagus is also a source of lycopene. In addition, it is rich in fiber that facilitates intestinal transit and improves overall bowel health. They help fight bladder and kidney problems, flush the body, prevent cancer, help fight rheumatoid arthritis, fight diabetes and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Contains more lycopene than a fresh tomato and is also a rich source of vitamin C. Other benefits of watermelon are preventing kidney problems, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, fighting diabetes and improving skin.
Also one of the lycopene-rich foods, it can be eaten fresh, in jams, minced in salads or bittersweet meat sauces.
Contains approximately the same amount of lycopene as a fresh tomato. However, ingesting too much grapefruit juice may increase the chances of developing kidney stones, so be cautious about drinking.
Contains approximately the same amount of lycopene as guava. It benefits digestion by fighting constipation, improving skin health, fighting free radicals, improving vision, fighting cancer by carotenoids and lycopene, lowering bad cholesterol and fighting diabetes or decreasing symptoms, balancing levels blood sugar in already diabetic patients.
8. Red cabbage
It is rich in phytochemicals, nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Reduces the chances of developing cancer, improves skin and eye health, aids weight loss, prevents diabetes, optimizes heart health, fights ulcers and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is rich in fiber, has a number of phytochemicals and antioxidants. Helps fight cancer, aids digestion and reduces stomach acidity, lowers bad cholesterol, promotes better skin health, regulates blood sugars being an ally against diabetes and aids brain function by the presence of vitamin B6.
Has a diuretic and anti-inflammatory action, helping to treat kidney problems, urinary tract infections, toothache, kidney stones and other problems.
A glass of carrot juice contains 5 mg of lycopene. It is rich in vitamin A that makes hair and nails stronger and healthier. It helps in lowering high cholesterol, is indicated for diabetics for its low glycemic index, helps fight constipation and protects the body’s cells.
Some researchers believe more studies are needed to prove the full benefits of lycopene (or tomato consumption) in fighting cancer and other diseases. Still, we can take advantage of these tips to increase the consumption of these foods in our daily lives because, anyway, they are healthy, fresh and unprocessed.
Also remember that these tips are no substitute for diagnosis or medical treatment or consultation with a nutritionist if you believe that any vitamin or nutrient is missing from your diet. Therefore, if you have any suspicion of cancer or any other related illness, be sure to consult and take the necessary tests.
Improving diet, getting healthy lifestyle habits, sleeping well, and stressing less remain the key to preventing most illnesses.