Benefits of Lycopene Containing Tomato Diet Have no Evidence

Benefits of Lycopene Containing Tomato Diet Have no Evidence

For years the scientific community has viewed individual vitamins and nutrients as the best that food has to offer. Nutrition studies have isolated beta carotene, calcium, vitamin E and lycopene, among other nutrients, in order to study their health benefits in the body. Lycopene’s popularity has led a number of health food companies to incorporate the nutrient into their vitamin supplements, driving up demand for the chemical.


Tomatoes get their red color from a plant nutrient called lycopene is an antioxidant in particular has received a lot of attention from researchers in recent years. Lycopene is a pigment that gives vegetables and a fruit, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon, their red color.It is one of hundreds of carotenoids that color fruits and vegetables red, orange or yellow. Of these pigments, the most familiar is the beta-carotene, which is found in carrots. Carotenoids, along with phenolic acids and flavonoids, are all phytochemicals, the nutritionally beneficial active compounds found in every fruit and vegetable.

Several studies suggest that consumption of foods rich in lycopene is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. Red carrots contain lycopene, also found in tomatoes and thought to guard against heart disease and some cancer sand macular degeneration. Purple carrots' anthocyanins are regarded as powerful antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage. The lower prostate oxidative DNA damage in men consuming tomato sauce suggests a role for tomato sauce and possibly for lycopene in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer

Diet also plays a powerful role in aging. Many doctors believe a rainbow diet will add years to your life. Red pigment in lycopene, found in tomatoes and watermelon, is a powerful antioxidant. Green foods, like spinach, contain folates, which build healthy cells. Brown foods, such as whole grains, have fiber and carry carcinogens out of your digestive system. Don’t forget some white foods -- garlic and onions support the immune system.

According to the research of the cancer epidemiology and prevention program at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University; lycopene has been found to have anti-tumor activity in a number of laboratory studies. Also, it has been used in a number of cancer studies in humans (e.g., lung, stomach and prostate cancers) that demonstrated a lower cancer rate in people with a high dietary intake of lycopene.

Researchers found that men whose fat samples revealed high consumption of lycopene had about half the risk of heart attack as men whose samples showed low lycopene consumption. This effect exceeded any protective effect of either alpha- or beta-carotene -- dietary carotenoid compounds similar to lycopene. Other red fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and red bell peppers also contain this anti-cancer chemical. It may also play an important role in eye health, optic neuropathy as a person ages.

Japanese researchers reported in issue of the American Journal of Physiology Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology that "Feeding tomato juice to mice kept them from developing emphysema after cigarette smoke exposure that was long enough to induce emphysema".

Subsequent research has found that lycopene also reduces the amount of oxidized low-density lipoprotein — the so-called bad cholesterol — and therefore may reduce the risk of heart disease. As an antioxidant, lycopene is able to capture twice as many oxygen ions in the body as is beta-carotene.

Study at the the Ohio State University showed that eating whole foods is better than consuming their components. "It's better to eat tomatoes than to take a lycopene supplement. And cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes. Chopping and heating make the cancer-fighting constituents of tomatoes and broccoli more bioavailable.

There is a magical component in tomatoes that research is beginning to show could protect our skin from UV damage from sunburn. It’s called lycopene and it is a very effective antioxidant. Tomatoes (raw, cooked, or in tomato products such as sauces or ketchup), pink grapefruit, and watermelon are rich in lycopenes. These vitamin-like substances are antioxidants that help prevent damage to DNA.

Some of sweet potatoes' anti-diabetic properties, acai berry fruit which is also high in antioxidants, vitamin C, plus lycopene and potassium, which regulates the balance of water and nutrients in cells and protects your skin against damaging free radicals.

Researchers from Ohio State University recently reported that pairing avocados with salsa or salad allows for better absorption of antioxidants in those foods. The lycopene in tomatoes or the beta-carotene in carrots may be better absorbed if there's a slice or two of avocado in the bowl. Scientists suspect that the fat content of avocados helps the body absorb these antioxidants.

Latest scientific research found no evidence for lycopene benefits:

The tomato lycopene link is made even more interesting because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave permission for some tomato products to carry highly-qualified labeling claims linking men's eating tomato products with a reduced incidence of prostate cancer. In reaching its decision, the FDA noted that it's unclear whether lycopene alone is responsible for the tomato products' effect.

According researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; found no association between lycopene and decreased prostate-cancer risk," Kristal says. "We also looked at foods that were good sources of lycopene, such as spaghetti sauce and pizza. These were not related to cancer risk at all." These results support four earlier studies that found no association between either tomato consumption or lycopene intake and risk of prostate cancer.

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