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Men’s Health

Men’s Health

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Sunday, August 15th, 2021

Most often times men do not take care of themselves, and when it comes to prostate, sperm and infertility more.

Many studies have found that lycopene is a carotenoid compound that contributes to the red and pink pigments in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit, papaya, and other plant foods.

Unlike beta-carotene, lycopene has no pro-vitamin A activity, but that doesn’t mean it provides nothing beyond a feast for the eyes. This phytonutrient has some impressive benefits with regard to men’s health, particularly for the prostate and for sperm quality.

Lycopene may be one of the few nutrients that benefit from some degree of food processing. Cooking and concentrating tomatoes—for example, turning them into ketchup, tomato paste, or sauce—may concentrate the lycopene and also make it more bioavailable by disrupting plant cell membranes, which allows the compound to be more easily released. Lycopene is lipid-soluble and is, therefore, better absorbed when consumed with a fat source.

One study showed that having avocado along with tomato salsa resulted in a quadrupling of lycopene absorption in healthy subjects. (So don’t skimp on the guacamole! And perhaps Italian and Greek culinary traditions have had it right all along, in using olive oil or feta cheese with tomatoes.)

Cardiovascular health is another major area of concern for men. The role of LDL-cholesterol in cardiovascular disease is a matter of ongoing controversy, but lycopene may have a role to play for patients in whom reducing LDL may be desirable. High-dose lycopene supplementation was shown to have a positive effect on plasma LDL cholesterol in a small cohort of healthy men.

The mechanism is believed to be the suppression of HMGCoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme in endogenous cholesterol synthesis. Another hypothesized mechanism is its positive effect on LDL receptors, which would in turn support cellular uptake of cholesterol. 

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove