Lycopene - in addition to being a powerful antioxidant - is effective in the treatment of the so-called 'fatty liver disease', closely related to obesity as well as to the contributions of palm oil e added sugars. To reveal its wonders, a Brazilian study just published on Antioxidants.
Lycopene, good cholesterol and liver function. The Brazilian study
I ricercators have induced a condition of obesity in guinea pigs, to simulate the pathological conditions that afflict at least 650 million individuals, of the over 1,9 billion overweight. (2) The origin of this pathology is largely due to behavioral factors. The sudden increase in the occurrence of obesity, starting from the 80s, is in fact attributed to the increased consumption of ultra-processed foods rich in saturated fats, added sugars and high energy density, together with a sedentary lifestyle. (3)
Guinea pigs they were divided into two groups, one control and the other subject to a high-calorie diet. After 20 weeks, the rats were treated to verify the effects of administering a daily dose of lycopene (in corn oil) equal to 10 mg / kg body mass for 10 weeks.
At the end of the experimentation, the health conditions of obese guinea pigs treated with lycopene - originally afflicted by diseases typically associated with obesity - including fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, NAFLD) - have seen marked improvements. With an increase in the so-called 'good' cholesterol (HDL), mitigation of the elevated level of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), improved liver function.
Lycopene, antioxidant action and disease prevention
Lycopene it is a carotenoid which gives the red color to tomatoes, red grapefruit, watermelon and apricots. It is also used as a food coloring (E160d). Not being synthesized by the body, it must be introduced with the diet.
Tomato is the main source of lycopene in the diet. But it has been shown that the greatest contribution is obtained from sauces and tomato sauces, therefore from the grinding and cooking of the fresh fruit. (4) Serum concentrations peak 24-48 hours after eating.
The supply of sauces and purées in Italy it is even simpler than elsewhere. The Bel Paese is the second largest producer of industrial tomatoes in the world. Preceded by California (USA) and followed by China. It is the leading exporter of pulps and peeled tomatoes, with a 77% share of the world value. To get an idea, let us know that the second and third exporters are Spain and California, with just 5% and 4% of the global value.
Lycopene, tomato preserves and supplements
Tomato preserves, better if organic, they are therefore a health ingredient. In fact, the powerful antioxidant action of lycopene has been demonstrated, useful in preventing cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer. (5)
In the treatment of serious cases of obesity-related disease, such as those covered by the Brazilian study, however, the intake of lycopene from food alone is not sufficient.
'Despite the outcome of the effects of lycopene on NAFLD observed in this study, there are some limitations regarding the translation of this study to humans. The concentration of lycopene used in the treatment is higher than what could be offered by a balanced diet', the researchers conclude. Who do remember, however, the availability of food supplements based on lycopene.
(1) Róvero Costa, Leite Garcia, Cristina Vágula de Almeida Silva, Junio Togneri Ferron, Valentini Francisqueti-Ferron, Kurokawa Hasimoto, Schmitt Gregolin, Henrique Salomé de Campos, Roberto de Andrade, Dos Anjos Ferreira, Renata Corrêa Moreto. Lycopene Modulates Pathophysiological Processes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Obese Rats. Antioxidants (Basel). https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8080276
(2) See WHO, Fact Sheets Obesity and overweight https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
(3) V. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Javad_Mehrabani/publication/322599691_Overweight_and_Obesity_A_Brief_Challenge_on_Prevalence_Complications_and_Physical_Activity_among_Men_and_Women/links/5a61e894aca272a158177273/Overweight-and-Obesity-A-Brief-Challenge-on-Prevalence-Complications-and-Physical-Activity-among-Men-and-Women.pdf
(4) Wilhelm Stahl, Helmut Sies, Uptake of Lycopene and Its Geometrical Isomers Is Greater from Heat-Processed than from Unprocessed Tomato Juice in Humans. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 122, Issue 11, November 1992, Pages 2161-2166, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/122.11.2161
(5) Kirstie Canene-Adams, Jessica K. Campbell, Susan Zaripheh, Elizabeth H. Jeffery, John W. Erdman, Jr. The Tomato As a Functional Food. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 135, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 1226–1230, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/135.5.1226
Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".