seeing red

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with tomatoes deep within the farmland of Israel. It's there, in the town of Beer Sheva, that this lycopene-rich fruit is processed to create Lyc-O-Mato, a proprietary and all-natural extract of the vine-ripe beauties. Lycopene is a carotenoid that is especially rich in tomatoes — and particularly beneficial for men. While lycopene definitely deserves a spot in everyone's diet, men seem to benefit from it in spades.

The research is impressive, to put it mildly. Scientists have found that lycopene can help with everything from heart and cancer protection to immune strength and eye health. But where this bright compound really shines is in the area of prostate health, including prostate cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). In fact, numerous double-blind studies show that lycopene, also present in watermelon, guava, and other foods, helps prevent BPH, which is a common condition that typically begins to affect men in their 50s or 60s. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lycopene supplements may be able to slow the prostate gland's enlargement and ease other symptoms associated with BPH. A male friend found this to be true: After trying certain herbal remedies to treat BPH (unsuccessfully), he started taking lycopene supplements and experienced an almost immediate resolution of his symptoms, which have since not returned.

You can find lycopene in single or combination supplements and, as mentioned above, in foods. Some compelling research shows that the carotenoid packs an even bolder health punch if it's consumed in a processed form (e.g., ketchup or tomato paste) or cooked with a bit of fat. Interestingly, researchers discovered that men who ate pizza regularly had a reduced risk for prostate cancer. The tomato-oil combo appears to have a synergistic effect. Incidentally, another study found that Italian men and women who ate pizza were less likely to have heart attacks when compared to those who skip the famous pie.

To learn more about lycopene, visit lycopene.com. And to discover a simple, yet powerful program for all your men's health needs, turn to p. 44.

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The articles in Better Nutrition are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals, who should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of illness, medication use, and changes to a diet or supplement plan.

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By Nicole Brechka

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