Tomato plants are widely grown in temperate climates which is the best climate for growing them. Green houses make it possible for tomato to be produced through out all seasons of the year, making it readily available all year long.
As tomato ripens, its colour starts to change from green to yellow and finally settles for red colour when it is ripe. The green colour is as a result of the chlorophyll. The chlorophyll concentration decreases a lot during ripening and the carotenoid concentration increases significantly. The chlorophyll breaks down gradually and synthesizes a red carotenoid known as Lycopene.
Lycopene belongs to a group of carotenoid that have a strong red colour. Lycopene has been linked to various health benefits which improves the general health of an individual. Some prominent health benefits are;
- Antioxidant Properties.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect your body from being damaged by free radicals. Lycopene’s antioxidant properties have been shown to keep free radical levels in balance and protect the body against chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and alzheimer’s disease.
- Protection Against Certain Types of Cancer.
Lycopenes have the potential of slowing down or preventing the progression of some types of cancer. Certain studies have shown that lycopene may slow the growth of breast and prostrate cancers by limiting the growth of tumor. Further studies have shown that lycopene have potentials for preventing the growth of cancer cells in the kidney. It has been recorded by observational studies that, high intake of lycopene lowers the risk of lung and prostrate cancer by 32-50%.
- Promote Heart Health.
Lycopene also helps in reducing the risk of developing or prematurely dying from heart disease. It does this by specifically reducing the damage caused by free radicals. It also does this by reducing the bad cholesterol levels. The protective effect of lycopene in terms of heart health is particularly beneficial to those people who have low blood antioxidant levels or high oxidative stress. This includes older adults and people who smoke or have diabetes.
- Protect Against Sunburn.
Lycopene appears to protect against the damaging effect of the sun. Studues have shown that supplements which provide a mix of lycopene and other carotenoids are very effective against damage caused by ultra violet rays. People who are exposed to ultra violet rays will have less severe skin reaction when they consume about 16mg of lycopene from tomato.
- Help Eye Sight.
Lycopene which is a carotenoid, contains a high amount of beta carotene which is a good vitamin A source. This enables them the ability to prevent or delay the formation of cataracts. It also reduce the risk or macular degeneration, that invarably cause blindness in older adults.
- Reduce Pain and Protect Brain.
Lycopene helps to reduce neuropathic pain that is caused by damage on the nerve and tissues. They also help in preventing seizures and memory loss that is common to old people, like in the case of alzheimers disease.
- Contributes To Stronger Bones.
The strong antioxidant action of lycopene slows down the death of bone cells and helps to keep bones healthy and strong.
Lycopene is generally considered safe, especially when obtained from food. In some cases, consumung high amount of lycopene-rich foods leads to a skin discolouration known as Lycoperodermia. So it is advised to consume tomato in safe level and stick to getting lycopene from sources like tomato and watermelon.