Don’t Get the Red Out: Lycopene gives prostates and other organs a healthy glow
Lycopenes defensive prowess comes in part from its ability to vanquish free radicals, molecular scoundrels that can cause cellular damage. In addition, it helps make sure cells communicate properly.
Scientists noticed that lycopene concentrates in the prostate, which led them to surmise that this nutrient might be useful in staving off prostate cancer, the most common malignancy among American men. That idea has been borne out by research; in fact, the strongest known dietary risk factor for prostate cancer (is a) lycopene deficit, according to members of the Harvard School of Public Health. Lycopene has even shown an ability to help men who already have cancer. In one small study, men who took a lycopene supplement before having their cancerous prostates removed saw their levels of PSA, a marker for prostate problems, drop by 18 percent compared with a 14 percent rise for men who took a look-alike substance.
Seeing Red Everywhere
Free radicals not only cause cancerous cell changes but they also damage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) through a process called oxidation. This causes LDLto gather in artery walls, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
By slowing oxidation, lycopene appears to befriend blood vessels. According to an investigation done in Holland that involved nearly 8,000 people, plaque on artery walls went down as lycopene went up. Other studies have shown associations between higher lycopene levels and reduced rates of blood pressure (in people with moderate hypertension to start with) and inflammation, now recognized as an important factor in both plaque formation and cardiovascular disease.
Lycopene also gathers in another organ dear to the male heart, the testicle. This helps explain why lycopene may promote fertility among men who suffer from poor sperm quality, although this research is still in its early stages.
Tomatoes, including such tomato-based foods like tomato juice, ketchup, salsa, paste, and sauce, are the best-known sources of lycopene. But this helpful nutrient is also found in apricots, pink grapefruit, guavas, papayas, and watermelon. (Hows that for a fruit salad?)
Trying to please your taste buds even as you protect your prostate? Reach for lycopene, the rich red stuff.
Reprinted with permission from Energy TimesLis