Lycopene is a carotenoids which is a class of phytochemicals and is a family of potent antioxidants which includes alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. It is believed that the carotenoids offer some protection against cardio vascular disease and a large variety of cancers. Lycopene is considered the most potent anti-oxidant in the carotenoid family, including beta-carotene.
An antioxidant prevents damage to the body by free radicals which are highly reactive substances that attach and kill/damage cells. Experts currently believe free radicals are the leading cause of over 60 health problems including cancers, heart problems and aging. Free radicals are molecules that have at least one unpaired electron and anti-oxidants are said to donate one electron so as to stabilise the free molecule.
Lycopene research is ongoing but most agree on the lycopene antioxidant properties. Through further research and studies scientists hope lycopene will one day be used to its fullest potential, fighting a number of diseases.
After digestion of the lycopene antioxidant it is moved to the lipid micelles in the small intestine. The miscelles is formed from bile and fat absorbed from the diet. After this the cartenoid lycopene is incorporated by liver metabolism into chylomicrons and then released into the lymph system. The lycopene phytochemical is then distributed to fatty tissues or organs eg. liver, testes or adrenal gland. Research has shown lycopene may also be beneficial as an antioxidant for diabetes, male infertility and even osteoporosis and is likely to combat degenerative diseases such as heart disease.