What is lycopene?

Many vegetables and fruits contain a pigment called lycopene. Scientists have long paid attention to it, and today, thanks to a multitude of scientific studies, its many useful qualities for human health have become known.

All of them are possible due to antioxidant properties - its ability to fight free radicals in the human body. This component provides protection against several formidable diseases, improves immunity and helps to preserve youth.

For what the pigment is required and where does it come from?

What is it - lycopene - and why is it needed by the body? This component is a plant pigment and belongs to the group of carotenoids. In fairly high doses, it is part of almost all vegetables and fruits of red color.

Scientific studies where the effect of the component on a person was studied proved a positive effect on the maintenance of the cardiovascular system. In addition, it was found that it significantly reduces the possibility of developing prostate, lung and stomach cancer, counteracts cell aging and prevents the development of coronary disease.

As a separate substance, lycopene was isolated at the beginning of the 20th century, and the molecular formula was derived by scientists in the 1930s. This pigment is known today as a food additive E160d - it has official registration as a food coloring.

On an industrial scale, this component can be obtained in several ways, but the most common and most optimal is the biotechnological approach: it allows you to synthesize a product from special zygomycete fungi called Blakeslea trispora. In addition to mushrooms, Escherichia coli is often used for the synthesis process - E. coli.

To less common methods of production is the production of tomatoes, in which it is contained in high concentration, but because of the high cost of this method is not too popular.

After receiving it is applied everywhere, including food production, cosmetology and pharmaceuticals, as well as a useful food additive. In addition, it can be purchased separately in the form of tablets or powder.

It is worth noting that the indicators of substance consumption can vary greatly depending on the area of ​​residence.So, residents of Western Europe can consume 2-3 mg per day, and Eastern - about 7-8.

According to medical recommendations, an adult body needs 6–10 mg of pigment daily, and a child’s body, within 3 mg. A pair of glasses of fresh tomato juice is usually enough to cover a person's daily need for lycopene.

The need for each organism in antioxidants varies, but it can be said with certainty that this carotenoid is necessary for everyone who has the following health problems:

  • at high risk of developing atherosclerosis or ischemic heart disease;
  • if there is a possibility of cancer of the lungs, stomach or prostate;
  • in case of anorexia;
  • when inflammation of the internal organs is present;
  • with problems with the eyes, especially with cataracts;
  • during infectious diseases (both bacterial and viral);
  • in violation of the pH of the body;
  • during a hot dry summer.

However, there are such conditions in which the need for a given substance decreases:

  • during pregnancy and breastfeeding;
  • all smokers;
  • during gallstone disease;
  • due to individual intolerance to the body.

Advantages and disadvantages of use

Lycopene is able to be well absorbed by the human body after heat treatment of products containing this pigment, especially if fats are additionally present in the food.

The maximum concentration in the blood is formed a day after the intake, and in the tissues - after 30 days of regular consumption in food. According to the results of the research, the absorption of substances contributes to beta-carotene.

It should be noted its many useful properties:

  • according to oncological studies, regular consumption of this component suppresses the risk of oncology of the prostate, lungs and stomach. In addition, products containing pigment, help not only prevent cancer, but, in addition to the main anticancer therapy, promote healing at an early stage;
  • It has been established that lycopene-containing products reduce the possibility of atherosclerosis development and contribute to its successful treatment at an early stage;
  • lycopene has the ability to accumulate in the tissues of the eye, so that the retina remains intact and workable;
  • a substance of this type is a powerful antioxidant and helps reduce oxidative processes inside tissues and at the cellular level;
  • some studies have shown a direct link between substance use and cataract treatment;
  • in some cases, the use of lycopene-containing products can lead to a positive trend in the treatment of inflammations of internal organs;
  • such products can prevent fungal diseases and bacterial infections, and also contribute to the normalization of cholesterol levels in the blood;
  • the substance helps to protect the skin from sunburn and helps to get a beautiful, even tan;
  • due to antioxidant properties, the component improves collagen production, which is why the skin becomes elastic and gets toned, and wrinkles are smoothed out. Like any other carotenoid, lycopene should be taken along with fats.
  • This compound is successfully used in cosmetology for the treatment of dryness, wrinkles and excessive pigmentation of the skin. On this basis, make cosmetic masks that contribute to the rapid regeneration of the skin and its youth.

Like many other substances, lycopene has its drawbacks. First of all it concerns its assimilation: being a fat soluble component, it requires the presence of fat in the food. If the diet of fat is not enough, the pigment will not be digested badly.

The lack of a component, in turn, adversely affects health and increases the risk of certain diseases. In addition, this component will not be absorbed by the body if there are diseases that reduce the ability of organs and tissues to absorb fats - for example, diseases of the liver or gall bladder, cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, etc.

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