By: Jim Goetz
Lycopene is an antioxidant and the "au natural" pigmentation you see when you look at a tomato or watermelon (the red, which is called carotenoids). Humans have been eating these fruits (yes, technically tomatoes are fruits) for centuries.
Lycopene has been used for: preventing heart disease, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis); and cancer of the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon, and pancreas. Lycopene is also used for treating human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, which is a major cause of uterine cancer. Some people have used lycopene for the treatment of cataracts and asthma.
In North America, 85% of all dietary lycopene comes from tomato products such as juice, paste, or sauce. What most of the human population does not understand is that in this instance, the heating of tomatoes actually transforms lycopene into a more bioavailable form. Yes, we utilize this antioxidant more efficiently.
In just half a cup of canned tomato puree, there is about 27,000 micrograms (mcg's) of lycopene. Yet in just one slice of a raw tomato, there is only 515 micrograms (mcg's) of lycopene.
While fresh is typically most desirable, in this instance, cooked may be best.
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