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Lypopene: Tomatoes Revisited

Posted by wmagnus On June - 1 - 2009

tomatoI have written about the antioxidant benefits of tomatoes and particularly their component lycopene before. Today, Cambridge Teranostics, a spinout of the well known university, has launched their new product Ateronon, a concentrated form of lycopene. The company is hyping this for heart health. Certainly, lycopene has been researched with an eye toward reducing plasma LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and heart disease. This is the entire basis of Cambridge Teranostics’ business model.

His Take: Lycopene is great, unfortunately Ateronon only contains 7mg of whey protein bound lycopene. This study found that whey bound lycopene was about as bioavailable (meaning easily absorbed) as tomato paste sourced lycopene. The problem is that the study that demonstrated a reduction in LDL cholesterol used 60mg/day of lycopene and that reducation was a very modest 14%, far below competing studies using statin drugs or even fish oil plus a red yeast rice supplement.  Supplementing at 7mg/day hardly seems adequate.

The thinking that Cambridge relies on is the evils of cholesterol not being in the total number but in the oxidation of LDL to VLDL (even more bad cholesterol) and prevention of plaque build up in the arteries from excess cholesterol. Regardless of their justification, every lycopene study that I have found used significantly more lycopene than 7g/day. Even the sun damage study I cited before used 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily which works out to 22g/day of lycopene.

Eat the tomatoes, or use the paste. This is one of those cases that the fancy supplement just doesn’t work out to be a real advantage.

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