IVF Babble

Lycopene and fertility

Lycopene is said to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world and a naturally occurring carotenoid with the main food source being the tomato! We wanted to know more and IVFbabble.com nutritionist, Sue Bedford, explains more.

Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants providing the red, yellow and orange colour to fruit and vegetables. They also have an important role protecting cells of our body from damage caused by free radicals.

Studies are now reporting the beneficial effects of lycopene on male fertility too

Research has been carried out to examine the antioxidants in lycopene and the effect they have in helping protect developing sperm from free radical damage and possible DNA damage.

Dr Narmada Gupta, Head of the Urology Department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi concludes that men who have poor quality sperm can benefit from lycopene and should consider a balanced diet including tomatoes.

Further studies have also now found that antioxidants can increase sperm count, morphology, motility and concentration.

In women, recent research has indicated that lycopene may help with endometriosis

Dr Tarek Dbouk, from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, said ‘What we found in our laboratory study is that lycopene can help with the adhesions that these conditions cause. One of the major complications of endometriosis is that it causes inflammation which induces adhesions and causes scarring.

‘What we did was to look at protein markers that could help us trace the activity of the abnormal cells that cause these adhesions. Lycopene worked to reduce the abnormal activity of these cells, and so, hypothetically speaking, we might be able to reduce the adhesion effects of endometriosis.’

Dr Dbouk also added that ‘It is certainly possible that you could get the amount you need from your diet.’  More studies are being conducted to further research if there is a specific amount of lycopene required.

It has also been discovered that cooked tomato products provide a more readily available source of lycopene than raw tomato does as the cooking process releases lycopene from the cell walls of the tomato.

So here are top tips on ways to get the most out of your tomatoes!

  • Buy ripe tomatoes as they have a considerably higher lycopene content than was thought to be the case. Under ripe tomatoes have considerably less lycopene in them.
  • Try growing your own!
  • Cook using tomato puree as it has a lower water content than fresh tomato, so the nutrients are concentrated. In recent studies it has been discovered that lycopene is more bio-available from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes.
  • Enjoy your tomatoes with a little olive oil as this will increase how much lycopene your body absorbs.

. . . and if you’re not so crazy on tomatoes, other good food sources of lycopene can be found in pink grapefruit, watermelon, guava and rose hip.




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