Lycopene is a red pigmented carotenoid. It is the natural antioxidant that is found in variety of food mainly in tomatoes, tomatoes based product, watermelons, carrot, guava and grapefruit. It is also found in some non-red plants parsley and asparagus and many other fruits. It cannot be synthesized in the human body therefore it must be consumed in a daily diet. Lycopene has a wide variety of pharmacological and clinical application. It is considered to be an anti-diabetic, anticancer, cardio protective antioxidant, hepato-protective neuro-protective. It fight against dermatologic diseases and also targeting reproductive disorders. Lycopene intake is excellent for cancer prevention mainly for lungs, bones and prostate cancers because lycopene has strong antioxidant abilities. It can also prevent breast cancer. High blood level of lycopene lowers the rate of breast cancer. It has anti diabetic properties because it raise insulin level and decrease body glucose. Lycopene also promotes heart health by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) level and reduced bad cholesterol (LDL). Lycopene consumption is also beneficial for skin cancer. Lycopene is a strong anti-inflammation agent which reduces fatty liver disease. According to researchers people who included tomato in their diet experienced up to 40% less UV ultraviolent skin damage from sunrays. It also increase level of procollagen in the skin. Lycopene also improved fertility in men consuming 14 milligrams a day of lycopene can improve 40 percent fertility in young men. It also work similar in way to that of ibuprofen medication in pain relief. It can also promote eye vision and memory. Research shows that lycopene’s antioxidant properties can help to keep free radical levels in balance. It is also very helpful in treatment of asthma. Studies show that who had received 30 mg per day of lycopene for one week had improved exercise-induced asthma. More than 80% of lycopene is derived from tomatoes and its products. Pakistan ranks 33rd and 52nd respectively in the world for tomato production and export value. Due to wide seasonality in production, tomato availability and its price fluctuate widely through the year. Pakistan produces two crops annually 1st in spring and 2nd in autumn however, in the Southern Pakistan, Sindh tomato can be grown throughout the year. There are mainly two ways to increase your lycopene intake. Eat more lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes, as suggested by the American Cancer Society. Tomatoes and foods made with tomatoes are the richest sources of this nutrient. If you are allergic or due to some other reasons you can also take it in supplement form. It is commercially available in capsule and soft gel form but its beneficial effect is much stronger when eaten from food.
Noor ulain Zafar MPhil Scholar department of Biology PMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi