Posted on Feb 15, 2011, 6 a.m.
Lycopene, the compound that gives tomatoes their red color, boosts the body’s natural antioxidant defenses and protects against DNA damage.
Responsible for giving tomatoes their characteristic red color, lycopene is a compound ant that has been shown by previous studies to exert beneficial effects on the heart, blood pressure, prostate, and skin. Jong Ho Lee, from Yonsei University (South Korea), and colleagues enrolled 126 healthy men, average age 34 years and average body mass index (BMI) of 24 kg/m2, in an eight-week long study during which each subject received either a daily 6 milligram or 15 milligram supplement of lycopene, or placebo. At the end of the study period, among the participants who received the lycopene supplement, researchers observed a significant increase in super oxide dismutase (SOD) activity -- a potent antioxidant enzyme, as well as reductions in measures of DNA damage in white blood cells. In addition, those subjects who received the daily lycopene also experienced reductions in systolic blood pressure and decreased levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP); CRP is a marker of inflammation and is suspected to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular-related events. The team concludes that: “An increase in serum lycopene after supplementation can reduce oxidative stress which may play a role in endothelial function.”
Ji Young Kim, Jean Kyung Paik, Oh Yoen Kim, Hae Won Park, Jin Hee Lee, Yangsoo Jang, Jong Ho Lee. “Effects of lycopene supplementation on oxidative stress and markers of endothelial function in healthy men.” Atherosclerosis, 9 December 2010.