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Lycopene
 


[Lycopene Protects Cells | Lycopene and Prostate Function
[Tomatoes Like You've Never Seen Them Before | Getting the Most Lycopene From Tomatoes]
[References]

Lycopene is the pigment that gives tomatoes, watermelons and some grapefruits their healthy red color. Found most abundantly in tomatoes (Lycopersicon esulentum), lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family. This group of phytonutrients are major contributors to the health of the human race.

Over 500 different carotenoids have been identified by science, and almost 10% of them are found in human blood and tissue. Best known is beta-carotene, whose important benefits have been well documented. Other familiar phytonutrients include allicin from garlic, and capsaicin from chili peppers.

Lycopene, Lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are the most abundant of the carotenoids present in human blood and tissues. Human breast milk has been found to contain 19 carotenoids, including lycopene. Like many carotenoids, lycopene has evolved as an integral part of human biochemistry, with many benefits to our well-being. Since mammals cannot synthesize lycopene, lycopene must be obtained from the diet.

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Lycopene Protects Cells

Research has shown that lycopene may protect DNA by its powerful antioxidant activity against singlet oxygen free radicals, dangerous forerunners to cellular damage. Lycopene was found to be the most efficient biological carotenoid to neutralize singlet oxygen - almost 3 times more powerful than beta-carotene. Also, lycopene has a "sparing effect" for beta-carotene: lycopene sacrifices itself to free radicals so that beta-carotene can be reserved for conversion to Vitamin A.

Lycopene has another ability that has excited further investigation. It increases gap junctional intercellular communication, which is the chemical and electrical coupling between neighboring cells. This enables a healthy exchange of the signals that regulate normal growth - thereby offering a protective influence on cellular reproduction.

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Lycopene and Prostate Function

One of the most interesting aspects of the way phytonutrients interact with the human body - beyond their broad spectrum antioxidant activity - is their tendency to be "organ specific." Different carotenoids have an affinity for different organs in the body! In the case of lycopene, it's the most plentiful carotenoid in the prostate gland. Studies have explored the link between diets high in lycopene and proper prostate function.

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Tomatoes Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

It’s hard to imagine that the ancestor of the beef-steak tomato was a tiny yellow fruit first harvested by the Incas.  Tomatoes have come a long way since their origin in the Andes, becoming more popular than any other fruit or vegetable in America.  (Botanically, the tomato is really a fruit, despite the Supreme Court’s 1893 ruling that it’s a vegetable.) 

Today, our appreciation of this dietary staple is entering a new chapter.  Modern nutrition science has delved into the biochemistry of the tomato and discovered unique phytonutrients with powerful influences on the human body.  Utilizing this research, the concentrated form of tomatoes most vital nutritional compound has been introduced: Lycopene. 

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Getting the Most Lycopene from Tomatoes

Until recently, lycopene was not commercially available, and lycopene hasn't been studied as extensively as has beta-carotene. But now, thanks to a unique (non-chemical) proprietary process, lycopene can be obtained from specially bred and cultivated tomato varieties that are rich in lycopene, and very red.

While it's important to continue eating fruits and vegetables, we can also benefit from the fruits of nutritional research. This is especially important since so much of our food supply has become denatured, lacking the traditional nutrition our bodies require. Nutritional supplementation with Lycopene is a significant step toward reclaiming the nutrients we need to help create a life of health and vitality. Get a taste of the 21st Century – lycopene.

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References

• Khachik, F., et al. (1995). Lutein, lycopene, and their oxidative metabolites... Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Suppl. 22, 236-46.

• Mascio, P, et al. (1989). Lycopene as the most efficient biological carotenoid singlet oxygen quencher. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 274(2), 532-38.

• Zhang, L., et al. (1991). Carotenoids enhance gap junctional communication... Carcinogenesis, 12(11), 2109-14.

 

Reprinted with exclusive permission from Source Naturals, Inc. 

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