Antioxidant and anticancer properties according to scientific studies, protective role for what concerns the prostate health, against cardiovascular illnesses, able to keep under control the levels of cholesterol.
The lycopene is a pigment of the group of the carotenoids, a type of substances synthetized by plants for a protection against free radicals that develop during chlorophyll photosynthesis. These substances don’t help just the plant but are beneficial also for the humans with a protective role for what concerns some cancers. The lycopene is the main pigment of tomato, and, according to scientific studies such as the 2006 work published on the journal Cancer causes & control by a group of researchers of the University of California, San Francisco, this carotenoid has a protective role from prostate cancer. But, in order to make the lycopene available in a higher quantity and easily digestible, the tomatoes should be cooked and served with fats such as extra virgin olive oil, as the tomato sauce. The heat breaks indeed the walls of the plant cells, so the lycopene is free to be absorbed by the body in a quantity that is five times more than raw tomato. The lycopene is not only a protective substance for what concerns the prostate cancer, this substance is also useful to prevent cardiovascular diseases. The Harvard Medical school in Boston has published in 2003 on the Journal of Nutrition a study performed on women in their 40s and above, the results show that eating foods characterized by a high amount of lycopene, such as tomato sauce, is able to lower the cholesterol levels and improves the ratio total cholesterol/good cholesterol. For this reason a healthy way to serve tomatoes and benefit from the properties of lycopene is to eat a plate of whole grain spaghetti seasoned with tomato sauce at least two times a week. Finally, the lycopene is not just in the tomatoes but also in the watermelon, papaya, pomegranate, red oranges, apricots, grapefruit, strawberries and cherries. Prefer the intake of lycopene from plant sources, especially tomato served cooked and in the form of sauce with extra virgin olive oil, and fruits and avoid supplements because in this case you don’t have the special synergy of all the substances that act together in food.