Latest Research on the Nutritional Value of Lycopene
Scientists have done research on that what ketchup, tomato sauce, grapefruit and watermelon have in common. They found a pigment called lycopene which is a good source of antioxidant and gives red color to some fruits and vegetables.
There are various benefits of lycopene, it helps in reducing risk of certain types of cancers, heart disease and macular degeneration. Lycopene is a compound or a pigment which gives red color to fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava.
Current studies show that lycopene holds antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to repair and thwart the action of activated molecules that are called free radicals. These free radicals can cause damage to cells in the body which can lead to blockage of the arteries, cancer, aging and joint deterioration.
Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene. According to studies, it has been observed that cooked or processed tomatoes are the best source of lycopene. Tomato products such as ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato paste are a better form of lycopene as heating the tomato produces a chemical change in the lycopene which allows it to be absorbed easily by the human body.
Other research showes that an intake of tomato products daily lowers risk of certain types of cancers such as prostate, stomach and lung cancer. For instance, in 2004, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that men over the age of 65 and at risk of getting hereditary prostate cancer, had almost half the risk when they had higher levels of lycopene in their blood compared to those who had lower levels of lycopene.
Another study at University of Milan found that people who intake a minimum of one tomato-based product daily in their diet had 50% lower possibility/chance of getting cancer of the digestive tract than those who did not include it in their diet.
One study found that a person with higher absorption of lycopene in their fat tissue lowers the chance of getting a heart attack than people with low absorption of lycopene in their fat tissue.
Most of the researchers to date have reported a link between the food intake patterns and disease risk. More research is still progressing to know more about the definite function of lycopene. People should consume 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (including tomatoes) which can increase the immune system and help to maintain good health.