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Understanding Lycopene’s Benefits to Your Heart

A new study from South Korea revealed lycopene’s potential in promoting heart health by protecting the body against damage in the DNA and in enhancing the body’s antioxidant defenses.


A recent study conducted by researchers from South Korea revealed that daily supplementation of about 15 milligrams of lycopene for a period of eight weeks helps lower systolic blood pressure and reduces inflammatory processes related to cardiovascular events while simultaneously increasing the activity of a potent antioxidant that helps to reduce DNA damage that occurs in white blood cells.  The results of the study are found in the Atherosclerosis journal.

Yonsei University, South Korea’s Jong Ho Lee, the study’s lead researcher, along with his colleagues, enrolled 126 healthy men to participate in the study.  The average age was set at 34 and average BMI was at 24 kg/m2.  The participants were then randomly assigned in one of the three groups:  one group received 6 milligrams of lycopene supplements each day for eight weeks, another group was given 15 milligrams of lycopene supplements daily for the same period, while the other group received placebo treatment.

Results showed that SOD (super oxide dismutase) activity rose by 2.37 units/ml in the group that received 15 milligrams lycopene supplements while those who received 6 milligrams lycopene supplements only experienced a 1.73 units/ml increase. The group who receive placebo supplements exhibited decreased SOD activity.  SOD is a potent antioxidant that helps combat oxidative damage brought about by free radical activity.

The Other Health Benefits of Lycopene

Studies have shown the benefits of lycopene consumption especially when it comes to promoting a healthy prostate, heart skin, bones and blood pressure levels.  Because of this, lycopene is now being used in various products such as supplement, beverages and even beauty products. As a matter of fact, according to Mintel’s database of global new products, there were about 500 lycopene-based products that were launched between the year 2003 and 2009.

Aside from the health benefits mentioned above, here are more amazing benefits that lycopene can do for you:

  1. Lycopene is best known for reducing the risk of some types of cancer such as those of the prostate, breast, cervix, and the lungs. Its antioxidant property helps in neutralizing the activity of free radicals which has been tagged as the cause of most diseases that plague the human body.
  2. It can also lessen sun damage to the skin by about 35%.Even just a single cup of tomatoes on a daily basis can already counteract the ill-effects of the free radicals that are given off by the UVB and UVA rays of the sun. If you want to get higher amounts of beneficial lycopene from it, it is advised that you cook the tomatoes first since heat can liberate a greater amount of lycopene from the hard cell membranes of the plant.
  3. It can improve and make your skin look better and it also helps in purifying your blood. This in turn can help in lessening the number of pimples on your face.
  4. Studies have also suggested that regular lycopene consumption can be of great benefit to people with high cholesterol levels, or those with atherosclerosis.
  5. Ongoing studies are also being conducted as to lycopene’s role in the prevention of conditions such as cancers of the urinary tract, stomach, skin, pharynx, pancreas, ovaries, larynx and esophagus.  Others include rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory infection, periodontal diseases, Parkinson’s disease, pancreatitis, melanoma, mesothelioma, diabetes mellitus, cataracts and AIDS.  However, further studies are needed in order to truly establish lycopene’s role in reducing a person’s risk of these conditions.

Sources of Lycopene

Cooking can release lycopene from a lot of plants. But the most popular food sources that you can get a great amount of lycopene from would be ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste and the canned tomatoes – more so if it is from the organic kind. Here are some of the other major sources of lycopene aside from the tomatoes:

  • A cup of carrot juice
  • Four asparagus spears, cooked
  • A cup of baked beans
  • Tablespoon of salsa
  • A cup of raw watermelon
  • A cup of marinara sauce
  • A cup of vegetable beef soup

Natural Ways to Ensure a Healthy Heart

Aside from lycopene intake, there are a lot of other ways to ensure a healthy heart.  Your diet, physical activity and lifestyle could influence not just your heart’s health, but your overall health as well.  So I just cannot anymore emphasize the importance of living healthy.  Here are some natural ways which you can easily do to show that you love your heart, and your life:

  • Get sufficient sleep. When you lack sleep, you are most likely to develop high blood pressure.  This is according to the hypertension report published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Sleep normally allows your heart to take things easy and let your blood pressure drop significantly after a stressful day has passed. Furthermore, sleep gives your body the rest that it needs and allows your body to recover and heal from damage caused by physical, emotional and environmental factors.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. Fruits and vegetables play a huge role in supplying your body and heart with considerable amount of vitamins, minerals and important nutrients that can protect your cells from possible damage caused by free radicals which are touted to be one of the major causes of heart failure.
  • Go easy on your coffee intake. Yes, coffee has been said to contain antioxidants but it is also very important that you limit caffeine intake since too much would reverse its effects. Its effects won’t enable you to sleep which, again, is very important to the body.
  • Lessen your salt intake. By doing this, you can cut down the risk of heart disease by 40% according to the studies made by the Department of Health. You must always opt for foods that are low processed and make it to only consume about five to six grams of a salt each day – and make sure it’s organic salt.
  • Get enough folic acid. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, sufficient amounts of folic acid within the body helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. This, in turn, can also lead to a better heart condition for you to enjoy for the rest of your life.

Sources
nutraingredients.com
hubpages.com
dietbites.com
guardian.co.uk

Related Posts

  1. Liking Lycopene
  2. Lycopene for a Healthy and Beautiful Skin
  3. Food Combining Offers Miraculous Health Benefits, Research Reveals
  4. European Study Confirms Calcium’s Heart-Healthy Benefits
  5. Benefits of Vitamin D for Heart Disease
  


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