|The health benefits of lycopene are attributed to its ability to protect cells against oxidative damage. Lycopene has the ability to quench singlet oxygen (more so than beta-carotene), to trap peroxyl radicals, to inhibit the oxidation of DNA, to inhibit lipid
peroxidation, and in some studies, to inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It helps prevent degenerative diseases by donating its electrons to oxygen free radicals thus quenching and neutralising them before they can damage cells. Free radicals are molecules that have at least one unpaired electron. By donating an electron lycopene can stabilise the free molecule.
Fighting cancer - Because lycopene is a potent antioxidant and seems to inhibit growth of cancer cells, it is logical that a higher intake of this carotenoid may indeed be associated with reduced incidence of cancer. Several studies suggest that eating vegetables rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes or tomato-based products, may reduce the risk of getting breast, cervical, gastrointestinal, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. Carotenoids work to protect against cancer and aging-related diseases by acting as an antioxidant to counteract damaging effects of free radicals in tissues. Lycopene is one of the major carotenoids found in human blood and tissues, and is found primarily in the testis, adrenal glands, liver, prostate, breast, colon, and lung.
Preventing heart diseases - Lycopene is found to prevent oxidation of lipids and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and reduced the risk of a person developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Lycopene helps prevent heart disease through this same antioxidant mechanism via an inhibition of oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol. The strong lipid antioxidant properties of lycopene make it particularly effective in blocking LDL oxidation and protecting against free radical activity on the arterial wall. Lycopene inhibits cholesterol synthesis and HMG-CoA (hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A) reductase activity, and upregulates LDL receptor activity in macrophages. Daily consumption of tomato products providing at least 40 mg of lycopene substantially reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. High LDL oxidation is associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Keeping skin healthy - Lycopene may help reduce the damage to the skin caused by ultraviolet light during and after sun exposure. Skin exposure to ultraviolet radiation is responsible for sunburn, tanning, premature aging and skin cancer. These effects are partly due to the formation of oxygen free radicals. Lycopene has the ability to quench free radicals, which are highly reactive compounds that are formed in the body from normal metabolism, as well as from environmental pollutants and radiation. xposure to certain types of UV radiation can cause damage to DNA (the genetic material of the body) and increase the risks of skin cancer. The powerful antioxidant action of lycopene helps to prevent the oxidation of serum lipids, thus promoting arterial health.