Q:

Do you get more lycopene benefits from whole foods or supplements?

A:

Quick Answer

There are benefits associated with lycopene from whole foods and lycopene supplements, reports Doctors Health Press. Research shows that lycopene supplements and lycopene from whole foods effectively reduce high blood pressure in people with hypertension and diabetes.

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Full Answer

Lycopene supplements are favored over tomato-based foods for blood pressure management, states Dr. Joseph Sciabbarrasi. However, lycopene from tomato-based foods is best for supporting cardiovascular health in general.

Researchers from Harvard University and the University of California found that lycopene from whole foods performed moderately better than lycopene supplements at protecting the heart from damage caused by the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, reports Doctors Health Press. The same team of researchers discovered that lycopene supplements and tomato-based lycopene can improve high-density lipoprotein. Improving HDL levels can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease, reports the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Despite these findings, the Harvard University and University of California researchers are not entirely convinced that lycopene supplements are equally effective or yield the same overall health benefits as lycopene from whole foods. They cite additional supportive nutrients present in tomatoes, such as vitamins A, C, B6 and potassium, and they suggest that a lycopene supplement taken with all these other nutrients in supplement form might augment its efficacy at supporting overall heart health, explains Doctors Health Press.

In addition to tomatoes, lycopene is present in carrots, mangoes, purple cabbage, grapefruit and asparagus, according to Dr. Joseph Sciabbarrasi.

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