We all strive to be the fittest, happiest, and healthiest versions of ourselves. There are many ways you can achieve this, traditionally through a balanced diet and adopting a regular exercise routine. Many people also find that taking supplements can drastically improve their health, antioxidants being one of the most prevalent.
The following article will break down the many health benefits that incorporating lycopene, a natural compound that is high in antioxidants, into your wellness routine can have, as well as some of the top food sources of lycopene.
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a natural compound known as a carotenoid; a type of organic pigment related to beta-carotene. These carotenoids are brightly coloured and are what give vegetables and fruits their colour, especially the yellow, red and orange varieties.
Studies have shown that lycopene is the most abundant carotenoid in the human body. All carotenoids have antioxidant properties, but lycopene is one of the most powerful. Antioxidants are tiny molecules that fight free radicals and reduce oxidative damage in the body, which can build up in the body from behavioural factors such as smoking, a bad diet and pollution.
Carotenoids such as lycopene and their antioxidant properties are believed to help repair cell damage and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses.
What are the main health benefits of lycopene?
There are many health benefits associated with eating food or taking supplements high in antioxidants, such as lycopene. Below are just some of the benefits that can help to improve your health:
- Pain relief: Lycopene has been shown to help reduce pain, similar to that of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
- Prostate health: Lycopene food or supplements may be able to help support prostate health, including reducing the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Psychiatric disorders: Studies have shown that low levels of lycopene have been linked to an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders.
- Protection against cancer: Lycopene’s high antioxidant levels may prevent or slow down the progression of certain types of cancer.
- Improved fertility: Fertility in men has been proven to improve when consuming increased amounts of lycopene.
- Skin health: Consumption of lycopene has also been linked to skin cancer prevention, as it helps to protect the skin from UV damage from sunlight.
- Heart health: Lycopene can help to maintain good blood pressure, and also reduces bad cholesterol while increasing levels of good cholesterol at the same time.
Top food sources of lycopene?
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in lycopene and antioxidants that many people already incorporate into their diet. The tomato is one of the best vegetables you can eat to increase your lycopene intake, along with watermelons, cranberries and sweet red peppers. Most people already consume these sorts of foods on a regular basis, but it may be worthwhile increasing the amount you eat if you are looking to feel some of the many benefits antioxidants can provide.