Ever wondered about the red juicy vegetable that sits pretty in your refrigerator! If your answer is negative, then start appreciating the unique qualities that they store within themselves. Within its core lies the antidote for one of the most threatening of ailments, cancer and heart attacks, to name a few.
This antidote is known as lycopene, a carotenoid, which lends red color to some of the vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, etc. Besides, lycopene fights free radicals in the body, thereby preventing the occurrence of stroke, heart attack, or exercise-induced asthma. This is, however, only an introduction to the numerous benefits that lycopene has in store for us.
Tomatoes are considered to be one of the richest sources of lycopene, apart from the very good sources in red watermelons, and pink grapefruits. Lycopene is a carotenoid, red in color, which prevents oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, consequently reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. According to a study published in October 1998, daily consumption of tomato products provides at least 40 mg of lycopene, enough to substantially reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. Increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease is basically associated with high LDL oxidation. Just two glasses of tomato juice a day is a simple solution to attain the appropriate level of lycopene in the blood. Tomato juice is a highly recommended source of lycopene on account of its easy digestibility by the human body. Tomatoes, in the form of ketchup, soups, juice, or paste makes the lycopene easily absorbable on account of chemical changes undergone due to temperature changes.
Over the years, a number of researches have been conducted to test the cancer-preventing ability of lycopene. One of the most revolutionary instances of research on lycopene (in tomatoes or watermelons) and cancer was a large Harvard study released in 1995. It closely observed the eating habits of 47,000 men for six years. Those who had at least 10 weekly servings of tomato-based foods were up to 45 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. In an analysis published (J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 Feb17; 91(4): 317-31), Edward Giovannucci of Harvard Medical School reviewed 72 studies that looked for a link between cancer risk and tomato-rich food. In all, 57-associated tomato intake with a reduced risk, and in 35 of these, the association was strong enough to be considered statistically meaningful.
Researches have also laid rest to the erstwhile claims that lycopene is essential only for men. According to the reports released by the University of Illinois, women with greater lycopene levels have a five-fold lower risk of developing precancerous signs of cervical cancer than women with lower lycopene levels. Articles published in the American Journal of Hypertension have come up with newer benefits of lycopene, especially in tomato and red watermelon. Researches suggest that lycopene can be a possible treatment for mild hypertension. To top it all, lycopene is excellent for the skin as it provides effective resistance against the harmful UV rays of the sun. So don't just let your tomatoes or watermelons sit prettily in the refrigerator! Cook it or juice it, but make sure to consume enough of it to resist all possible ailments. With the benefits of lycopene being acclaimed worldwide, green is no more the only healthy trend among diet freaks. The 'red' is out to rule!
About the Author: Suzanne Macguire is an Internet marketing professional with expertise in content development and technical writing in a variety of industries.
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