The health benefits associated with the powerful red substance known as lycopene are vast. This tasty antioxidant can help keep the human body healthy and protect against harmful damage caused by free radicals that are constantly plaguing the body. Doctors have been touting the benefits for years but new research has proven they are even better than we once thought.
Which foods contain lycopene?
Lycopene is a naturally occurring substance found in tomatoes, red carrots, watermelons, grapefruits and papaya. This nutrient is not necessarily a requirement for the human body, but it can certainly help the body fight off a number of illnesses. Doctors recommend lycopene as a prevention method against several types of cancers. Prevention is the only method that can give a 100 percent guarantee.
Doctors believe the positive results from a high lycopene diet are because of the antioxidant properties. Cancer cells develop when they are exposed to free radicals that are all around us. Lycopene acts as a line of defense and helps to strengthen those cells that are being attacked thus preventing some cancers and other illnesses associated with cell degeneration.
Lycopene and Cancer
Lycopene is believed to be very powerful against prostate and breast cancers. Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Edward Giovannuci has found proof that tomatoes actually interrupt breast tumor cells. This can help reduce the spread of tumors and limit the growth of established tumors. It is believed to help prevent several other types of cancers including skin, stomach and cervix.
This antioxidant can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Lycopene can help lower bad cholesterol levels. This powerful little red substance helps break down LDL cholesterol. People that suffer from high cholesterol levels are usually lacking in the natural liver enzymes that are used to break down and get rid of the LDLs. A lycopene boost can help the body get a person’s cholesterol levels back in line. Of course, it is important to follow a healthy diet as well. Lycopene is not that powerful, it cannot combat a daily diet that includes greasy cheeseburgers.
Skin cells can also benefit from a diet filled with lycopene. We are exposed to harmful UV rays every day. As we age our skin begins to wither and some people will develop age spots. Our skin is an intricate part of our body’s defense that is often abused. Skin cells are constantly being hit with radiation from everyday appliances, the sun and harmful pollutants in our atmosphere. Lycopene is not the fountain of youth, but it can help limit the damage.
Many scientists and doctors support a diet high in tomato sauce and cooked tomato products. It is a proven fact that those who eat a diet filled with tomato dishes have a lower rate of cancer incidents. If tomatoes are not your thing, there are supplements available.