Know what else is good about lycopene? It can help you avoid metabolic syndrome
Pigments that give plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables their distinctive colors are widely studied for their beneficial properties. One such class of plant pigments called carotenoids continues to attract considerable scientific interest. This is because not only do some of them serve as precursors to vitamin A but also because most of them have strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants, especially those that come from your diet, are important for maintaining good health as these compounds contribute to disease prevention.
Recently, a carotenoid called lycopene, which is commonly found in red- or pink-colored fruits, has been linked to significant metabolic benefits. A 2018 article by researchers at The University of Alabama (UA) discussed the effects of a lycopene-enriched diet on the risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS). MetS is a collection of diseases that put you at greater risk of coronary heart disease and other life-threatening conditions that affect the blood vessels.Carotenoids and lycopene: fast facts and health benefits
Plant pigments are classified into four categories: anthocyanins, betalains, carotenoids and chlorophyll. Anthocyanins are the compounds responsible for the red, blue and purple huesof berries and grapes. Betalains are the water-soluble pigments that give beets, chard and pokeberries their red, violet and yellow colors. Chlorophyll are mainly green pigments found in the chloroplasts of plants and algae, while carotenoids are the bright red, yellow and orange pigments found in yams, watermelons, bell peppers, spinach, mangoes, oranges and tomatoes.
Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds that are divided into two main groups: xanthophylls and carotenes. More than 600 different carotenoids have been identified in plants, particularly those that are commonly found in the human diet. Xanthophylls, which are found in summer squash, avocado, egg yolks, spinach and corn, are carotenoids that can protect you from the harmful effects of too much sun exposure. They are usually associated with eye benefits. Examples of xanthophylls include lutein and zeaxanthin.
Carotenes, on the other hand, are carotenoids responsible for helping plants grow. Some carotenes are called provitamins because they are converted into vitamin A inside the body. The most well-known provitamin A carotenoids are alpha- and beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Good sources of carotenes include carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, papaya and tangerines. Lycopene, which can be found in tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits and apricots, also belong to the carotene group, although it isn’t converted into vitamin A by the human body.Lycopene offers plenty of metabolic health benefits
MetS is defined as a cluster of medical conditions that occur simultaneously and lead to serious consequences, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke The conditions that contribute to MetS include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or triglycerides and excessive fat accumulation around the waist. According to a study published early this year, MetS is becoming a global pandemic, with 12 to 37 percent of the Asian population and 12 to 26 percent of the European population suffering from it.
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