What is Lycopene.
Lycopene is a carotenoid, which is a natural pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables(tomatoes, red onions, red peppers, and all red foods.) a deep red colour . The red pigment acts as an antioxidant in the body, protecting cells against damage from free radicals. Foods that are not red may also contain lycopene, such as asparagus and parsley
Owing to the strong color lycopene is used as approved food colouring usage in the USA and Europe
Lycopene became well known a few years ago as a prostate cancer preventative, but none assumed it could do much else, in fact, prostate cancer prevention is only one part of lycopene’s impressive repertoire.
Today, we know lycopene has also anti-cancer and other benefits for blood pressure, blood lipids, and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, a team of Cambridge researchers set out to investigate the heart health benefits of lycopene in tomato, a Mediterranean mainstay, with a small gold-standard study—randomised, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial of just 36 patients with heart disease, and all of them with impaired endothelial function (the lining of your blood vessels) and all of them on statin drugs.
Researchers gave the participants a supplement containing 7 mg of lycopene or a placebo every day for two months. By trial’s end, they found that the patients taking lycopene benefited from better blood flow than the placebo group.
Their blood vessels’ ability to relax and widen improved by more than 50 percent.
That is great because improved blood vessel function mean increased blood circulation, lowered blood pressure, and taking lethal stress off of arterial walls. And it shows that natural remedies can cure your heart related complications better than statins.
New Discovery About Lycopene Benefits
Now an impressive new study by researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center discovered that higher blood levels of lycopene may also reduce mortality risk for people who have metabolic syndrome, the scourge of our times.
The metabolic syndrome is a condition that encompasses several risk factors which lead to diabetes, then to cardiovascular disease (clots are forming in the arteries and the rupture of these clots is the most common way heart attacks and stroke occur) and finally even to Cancer.
These risk factors are:
- Insuline resistance
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Hyperglycemia (elevated sugar blood counts)
- Dyslipidemia (excess fat in the blood) characterised by elevated quantity of BAD cholesterol (LDL) with elevated quantities of B-type particles, low level of GOOD cholesterol (HDL)
Scientists believe increased oxidative stress and inflammation may play an important role in the high mortality of individuals with metabolic syndrome.
The Nebraska researchers assessed data from the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for evidence that the lycopene compound reduces mortality among individuals with metabolic syndrome.
They looked at the records of nearly 2,500 people over the age of 20 with metabolic syndrome and found that very low levels of lycopene were associated with an earlier death.
In fact, the subjects with the highest blood levels serum lycopene concentration actually lived 13 months longer than those with the lowest levels.
The study was published in the journal Nutrition Research
That represents also an important confirmation: the best results of health tests are almost always associated with the highest levels of certain nutrients. So people with above the normal range of Lycopene in their bodies live longer. And this holds true for all natural supplements.
And now that you know that higher levels of lycopene can add more years to your life if you have metabolic syndrome, you have to get more of it.
And, even if you are healthy you can benefit from lycopene. By increasing the intake of lycopene you can decrease your chances of ever developing the metabolic syndrome.
But, as it is often the case for most nutrients, also for lycopene it’s difficult for your body to absorb enough of it just from raw foods because the fiber interferes with the absorption and bioavailability. So the right supplements, only those which contain only the purest raw ingredients, comes in handy if you are in a situation of increased need because of prostatic problems or Metabolic Syndrome.
And, at the same time, keep absorbing Lycopene naturally from tomatoes as much as you can.
But Do Not Eat Your Vegetables Fresh This Time !!!
Although eating raw, fresh tomatoes in salads and other foods is always a very healthy option, in order to kick up the nutritional value of tomatoes, you have to cook it into a sauce, or soups or omelettes. Cooking maximises lycopene content. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, where nutritional content is diminished upon cooking, processing of tomatoes increases the concentration of bioavailable lycopene. Lycopene in tomato paste is up to four times more bioavailable than in fresh tomatoes.
A Good, Quick And Easy To Make Tomato Sauce Recipe For You
Just in case you do not know how to make an Italian tomato sauce I will suggest how to prepare the simplest and tastiest one with fresh tomatoes, just as I prepare it almost every day.
- Clean, peel and cut the ripe tomatoes (2 large ones per person). To peel them easily first boil them in hot water for 2-3 minutes.
- Chop finely a little onion and a couple of garlic wedges (or more)
- In a pan heat 3 spoonful of vergin olive oil
- Add the onion and garlic to the boiling oil, lower the heat and stir for 3-5 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.
- When the onions get transparent, add the tomatoes to the pan, with a pinch of salt, as much chile peppers as you like, and two leaves of basil and salvia, and let cook at low heat only for 7-8 min stirring occasionally.
If you wish, together with the tomatoes you can add also a small can of white beans, and eat it like this.
In Italy this sauce is eaten almost daily to dress pasta. But because pasta is not good for you, you will find it is delicious over grilled chicken, fish, or meatballs.
Until next time,