Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gac Fruit Vietnam

The Western world has been taken by surprise with the super antioxidant powers of the highly celebrated gac fruit. Vietnam is the primary source for this spectacular “super fruit” that has grown in rural areas of the country for thousands of years. The fruit is harvested from vines trailing through trellises around people’s homes when they go from green to a vibrant orange-red hue.

Gac Fruit Promotes Health

The health-promoting powers of the fruit is no longer a secret in North America and it is now consumed by people interested in natural alternatives to preventing disease, boosting the immune system and a long-lasting youthful appearance and vitality. This Asian treasure has such an extraordinary concentration of vitamins and minerals it is used to treat mild to common disorders rather than turning to prescription drugs.

Gac fruit is especially rich in:

  • lycopene, zeaxanthin and beta carotene (antoxidants)
  • vitamins A, C, and E
  • essential fatty acids
  • iron and zinc

The ripe fruit is available seasonally from September to December and is the cause for great celebration. For local Vietnamese people the ripening fruit hanging on the vines around the entrance way to their homes has always invoked feelings of anticipation for the imminent celebrations heralding the New Year.

The exterior of the fruit is hard and spiny once it ripens. The orange fruit inside forms thick and spongy cushions for 15 – 20 brilliant red seed pods. Traditional Vietnamese herbalists make a special tonic from the oil extracted from the seed membrane of the gac fruit. Vietnam depended on the oil for hundreds of years as an agent to assist with pregnancy, lactation and issues with vision. The oil has a pleasant, nutty flavor that children like and take to help promote healthy development and growth.

Celebration Offering

It is traditional to prepare celebration dishes made with gac fruit. Vietnam is famous for delicate rice dishes and the red pulp of the fruit is added to the rice, denoting life and vitality. The dish is served at wedding and important events, garnished with the whole seeds so everyone partaking of the offering knows the gac is fresh.

Since the gac fruit is so high in beneficial oils it is not shelf-stable and cannot be easily shipped. Gac products with the same high concentration of nutrients can be obtained through many health food stores in North America. Gac can be purchased as powder, frozen pulp, juice or oil


Gac Fruit Oil For Youthfulness and Vitality

Gac fruit oil is from the fruit revered as “the gift from above” for its key role in maintaining great health and longevity. It has been used traditionally in Southeast Asia for thousands of years to support cellular rejuvenation in the body. Extracts from the fruit are used to help promote healthy, youthful looking skin.

High in Vitamin A

Also known as baby jackfruit and sweet gourd, the bright red spiny fruit about the size of a cantaloupe is bursting with powerful antioxidants such as beta carotene and lycopene to boost the immune system and slow down the symptoms of aging. Gac fruit oil is especially rich in vitamin A and is used in Vietnam to overcome diseases spurred on by a deficiency in the diet of the vitamin.

Vitamin A deficiency can have a serious impact on our health:

  • Night blindness and blindness
  • Inability for the body to fight infections
  • Unhealthy pregnancy and lactation
  • Deceased rate of growth
  • Retarded bone development
  • Lower survival rate after serious illnesses
  • Dry skin, dry hair and broken fingernails

Our bodies do not naturally produce vitamin A so the only way we can get it is though our diet. Gac fruit oil is a major source of the vitamin.

High in Vitamin E

Gac fruit oil is rich in other free radical scavengers that put a stop to the damage to the skin that makes it look old and wrinkled. Xeoxanthins and alpha-tocopherol are free radicals and forms of vitamin E contained in the oil. Anti-aging creams are typically saturated with vitamins A and E to prevent the destruction of skin cells that makes it age. The oil from the gac fruit is highly prized for its ability to promote youthful, glowing skin. It is the reason Southeast Asian women have beautiful, vibrant skin.

Use Natural Products for Younger Looking Skin

Using natural products for rejuvenating the skin and maintaining a healthy, youthful appearance is a growing trend among celebrities and super models. Natural health is reflected by the skin and is fast becoming preferable over harsh chemical treatments and costly cosmetic surgery. Hollywood celebs are trying to avoid the “frozen” face look that comes with repeated cosmetic surgeries. Gac fruit oil offers a concentrated, nutrient-rich solution to support glowing, youthful looking skin.


Gac Fruit Diet for Health

Vietnamese people have been on the gac fruit diet for thousands of years because of the super nutritional content contained in the oil and seeds to prevent certain types of cancer, improve growth and boost the immune system. Finding the fresh fruit in Western countries is unusual, but when it can be obtained there is a method to eating it.

If the gac fruit is not a bright red is it not ripe enough to eat. It starts out green, about the size of a cantaloupe and as it ripens goes through the yellow and orange spectrum until it reaches a brilliant orange-red hue. They are at their peak when they turn a brighter red just before spoiling.

How to Eat Gac Fruit

Warning! Do not eat the sides, which is similar to the inner texture of a cantaloupe. This part of the fruit, as well as the exterior rind are toxic and will make you feel ill for a couple days if you attempt to eat it. The only parts that can be eaten are the inner soft, oily pulp surrounding the seeds and the seeds themselves.

The gac fruit diet in Southeast Asian countries really only consists of those part of the fruit. The oil is used to make the famous Vietnamese dish, xoi gac – a dish representing life and vitality served at weddings and special celebrations. The oil and seeds have mild nutty flavor, that is unobtrusive in rice dishes or smoothies, but pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Carotenoids for Disease Prevention

The fruit is very high in carotenoid antioxidants that help to fight off the ravages of toxins in the environment that lead to disease and symptoms of aging. Gac fruit contains about 40 times more zeaxanthin than corn. This is the antioxidant that promotes eye health and lowers the chances of getting cataracts and macular degeneration due to aging. There has really been nothing else discovered medically that offers this type of protection to the eyes.

Inadequate intake of carotenoids through the foods we eat does not produce any noticeable short-term effects. Over time lack of these particular antioxidants is linked to chronic health situations such as heart disease and cancers. A gac fruit diet dramatically boosts the levels of carotenoids in the body, thereby helping to lower the susceptibility to these maladies


Gac Fruit for Healthy Living

Gac fruit is the Vietnamese super food that delivers powerful antioxidant health benefits and is quickly growing in one of the favorites in Western diets for people that want to eat foods that fuel their bodies with the most abundant nutrients. The fruit only ripens for a few months out of the year – September to January is so highly revered it is the cause for many festivals and celebrations. It is considered an Asian treasure with 10 times more lycopene (an important antioxidant) than any other fruit.

Fruit from Heaven

In rural Northern Vietnam many homes are decorated with trellises laden with vines that spiral up toward the sky. The fruit begins as a green cantaloupe-like fruit that eventually ripens into a brilliant dark red-orange. The vines are very easy to grow but the ripe fruit is only available seasonally. It is known affectionately as “Fruit from Heaven” because of the way it grows and its impressive health benefits. It is said to promote health, vitality and longevity.

Super Antioxidant Properties

Lycopene is the red pigment that gives the gac fruit and others such as watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes their color. It has been shown to have excellent antioxidants effects and helps to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer. Studies show that men with high amounts of lycopene in their body fat were 50% less likely to suffer from heart attacks. (Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient.) A completely ripe gac fruit at its deepest color intensity provides about 70 times more lycopene in a commercial tomato.

Lycopene is not naturally produced by the body so it must be included in the diet. Since it is fat soluble, it must be eaten along with some form of dietary fat to be absorbed by the body. Studies showed that eating foods high in lycopene can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 34%. It also helps to lower blood pressure and balance low blood sugar and hyperglycemia.

As an antioxidant, lycopene scavenges for “free radicals” in the body caused by stress, body metabolism and environmental toxins that attack healthy cells and instigate aging-related diseases, heart disease and cancer. It also helps to disarm the free radicals responsible for instigating osteoporosis and UV skin damage. It has been suggested that lycopene helps to improve fertility in men. It is recommended that foods containing lycopene such as gac fruit are consumed daily for the antioxidant health benefits.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Trong các loại rau quả cận nhiệt đới (subtropical), chỉ có quả gấc (Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour) Spreng), họ Cucurbitaceae, được xem là có màu đỏ của Lycopen và màu vàng của beta caroten với hàm lượng cao gấp nhiều lần các thực phẩm đang được sử dụng phổ biến trên thế giới.

Trước năm 1940, theo GS Đỗ Tất Lợi, trong sách Đông và Tây Y chỉ ghi 2 vị thuốc được sử dụng từ cây gấc là hạt và rễ để chữa mụn nhọt, trĩ, đau nhứt tê thấp. Năm 1941 lần đầu tiên Bùi Đình Sang và F.Guichard, trường Đại học Dược Hà Nội, đã chiết từ màng đỏ quả gấc và nhận thấy lượng carotenoid (tiền vitamin A) rất cao, gấp hàng chục lần trong củ cà rốt, cà chua và dầu cọ đỏ. Sau đó Bùi Đình Oánh (1942) đã sử dụng kỹ thuật công nghiệp để ép dầu gấc xuất sang Pháp và tiếp theo các GS. Nguyễn Văn Đàn, Đinh Ngọc Lâm, Hà Văn Mạo… đã nghiên cứu phân tích bổ sung thành phần carotenoid trong quả gấc và sử dụng trong lâm sàng để phục vụ nhu cầu phòng bệnh và điều trị vết thương, đề phòng ung thư gan nguyên phát v.v

Từ năm 1970, được sử chỉ đạo động viên của Giáo sư Từ Giấy, các Giáo sư Hà Huy Khôi, Phan Thị Kim, Bùi Minh Đức, Nguyễn Công Khẩn, Tô Bích Phượng đã cùng các cộng sự Nguyễn Văn Chuyển (Nhật Bản), Vương Thúy Lệ (Hoa Kỳ) Lê Doãn Diên, Phan Quốc Kinh, Lê Văn Nhương, Lâm Xuân Thanh, Nguyễn Hưng Phúc, Lê Việt Thắng, Bùi Minh Thu, Phạm Thị Trân Châu… cùng nhiều tác giả đã nghiên cứu sâu thêm về thành phần carotenoid, lycopen, vietamin E, acid béo nhiều nối đôi omega 3, trong các sản phẩm chế biến từ quả gấc, đồng thời theo dõi thực nghiệm tác dụng chống oxy hóa, hạn chế tác động độc hại của dioxin và độc tố vi nấm Aflatoxin trên gan chuột và nghiên cứu ứng dụng trong chăn nuôi để sản xuất trứng gà có hàm lượng cao Carotenoid, thành phần beta caroten, retinol và giảm cholesterol.

Màng đỏ của hạt quả gấc chín có thành phần g%: Nước 77, protein 2,1; Lipid 7,9; Glucide 10,5; Xơ 1,8; và muối khoáng 0,7; Lượng beta caroten 0,046; lycopen 0,038. khi sấy khô 60-700C, có thành phần g%: Nước 7,1; protein 9,0; glucide 40,4; lipid 27,8; xơ 12,1; và muối khoáng 3,6; Thành phần vi lượng (mg%) carotenoid (tổng số) 356; beta-caroten trên 26,5; alpha-tocopherol 490,5; lycopen 304. Ep màng đỏ hạt gấc sấy khô được sản phẩm dầu gấc màu đỏ sẫm, vị béo, mùi thơm đặc trưng, 100g dầu có trên 1446mg (1185-1708) Carotenoid, 422mg (228-617) beta caroten, 138,5mg alpha tocopherol và 364,8mg lycopen. Vitamin A rất quan trọng trong việc đề phòng các bệnh do thiếu vitamin A, bệnh khô mắt, quáng gà, loét giác mạc, cận thị, chậm lớn ở trẻ em, ung thư gan nguyên phát. Vitamin A còn tham gia nhiều quá trình hoạt động sinh lý trong cơ thể, tác động đến quá trình biệt hóa tế bào, sinh sản tinh trùng, phát triển bào thai, kích thích sinh trưởng, tăng sức đề kháng, đáp ứng miễn dịch của cơ thể và hoạt động của các cơ quan thính giác, vị giác. Khi vào cơ thể 1 phân tử beta coroten (tiền vitamin A) sẽ chuyển hóa tổng hợp thành 2 phân tử vitamin A và chỉ thực hiện khi có nhu cầu, do đó không thể có triệu chứng thừa, ngộ độc vitamin A khi sử dụng quá liều caroten, carotenoid (như đau đầu, nôn mửa, song thị, rụng lông tóc, khô màng niêm dịch, tróc vẩy da, đau khớp nối xương, suy gan, chảy máu và có thể dẫn đến hôn mê)

Tại Hoa Kỳ theo dõi sử dụng liều cao beta-caroten trong điều trị bệnh nhân HIV pha II 120mg/ngày và tăng nhiệt độ cơ thể 420C trong 1 giờ, tắm hơi đã tăng khả năng phục hồi T-helper CD4/CD8 đáp ứng tốt miễn dịch, giảm quá trình tiến triển HIV-AIDS, đồng thời tăng khả năng đáp ứng miễn dịch của vaccin.

Vitamin E và Lycopen cùng với lutein, zeaxanthin, beta cryptoxanthin trong quả gấc ở dạng thiên nhiên, còn có tác dụng quét loại các gốc tự do, gốc peroxyd trong cơ thể, phòng và điều trị nhồi máu cơ tim, đột quỵ, nguy cơ gãy xương ở phụ nữ, đặc biệt phụ nữ sau mãn kinh, đái tháo đường, ung thư vú, tuyến tiền liệt, dạ dày, ung thư gan, xơ gan và phòng bệnh mạn tính, kéo dài tuổi thọ. Acid lonoleic (omega 6) còn gọi là vitamin F, acid linolenic (omega 3) có ít hơn trong dầu gấc, đã giúp sự phát triển sớm về trí tuệ và thể lực, đặc biệt đối với trẻ em, đề phòng một số bệnh tim mạch, huyết áp, xơ vữa động mạch, do điều hòa chuyển hóa, giảm cholesterol trong cơ thể, bệnh ngoài da, các rối loạn, thoái hóa thần kinh trung ương, bệnh Alzheimer sa sút trí tuệ ở tuổi trung niên và miễn dịch.

Dầu gấc còn kích thích sự phát triển hình thành lớp mô mới làm cho vết thương mau lành, dùng điều trị rất tốt các vết bỏng, loét và nứt kẽ vú, dùng cho bệnh nhân bị ung thư sau khi cắt bỏ khối u, sau hóa trị và xạ trị. Tại các Hội nghị Quốc tế Thực phẩm Châu Á tại Singapore 4/1991, Thực phẩm dinh dưỡng và hoạt động thể lực vui sống ở Atlanta Hoa Kỳ, Vệ sinh An toàn Thực phẩm và Sức khỏe bền vững trong thiên niên kỷ tới, Hội nghị thức ăn chức năng thực phẩm Châu Á tại Bắc Kinh 9/2002 và Hà Nội 10/2003, Hội nghị IVACG (phòng thiếu vitamin A) tại Hà Nội 2/2001. Morocco 2/2003 và Peru 11/2004, các báo cáo tham dự và giới thiệu poster về thành phần dinh dưỡng, giá trị sinh học thực phẩm chức năng cùng sản phẩm chế biến từ quả gấc, dầu gấc, bột màng đỏ hạt gấc, mứt gấc, bánh kem xốp, sữa chua và kẹo gôm gấc đã được nhiều đại biều Quốc tế quan tâm và đánh giá rất cao, do quả gấc của Việt Nam được xem là thực phẩm duy nhất chứa khá đầy đủ thành phần các chất chống oxy hóa với số lượng đặc biệt cao

Tại nước ta, gấc có thể trồng ở mọi nơi, vùng đồi núi, đồng bằng, ven biển. Gấc rất dễ trồng, bằng dây hoặc bằng hạt. Trồng bằng hạt có thể có cây toàn hoa đực không có quả, nhưng trồng bằng dây đã cho quả, sẽ đảm bảo cây có quả 100%. Nên trồng vào tháng 2-3 dương lịch, chọn dây gần gốc có chiều dài 40-60cm, (2-4 đốt) tẩm vôi ở 2 đầu đốt và đặt vào hố sâu, đã bón phân chuồng, rồi phủ 1 lớp đất mỏng. Từ tháng 5-11, gấc sẽ ra hoa liền quả, và chín dần từ tháng 7 tới tháng 1,2. Để gấc nhiều quả, nhất thiết phải tạo giàn, cây cọc không cao quá cho gấc leo. Càng có điều kiện vươn xa, và có ánh nắng mặt trời, gấc còn sai quả. Nhiều gia đình ở thành phố có đất trồng có giàn leo tốt ở cả 3 tầng, đã thu hoạch trên 100-150 quả một gốc gấc. Cây gấc sống dai tới 15-20 năm. Vào tháng 1,2 khi gấc đã rụng lá, có thể vẫn để dây gấc trên giàn, chỉ đốn các cây dây nhánh để nhân giống hoặc đốn tới gốc, chỉ để lại chừng 5-10cm, sang năm gốc lại phát triển và có thể sai quả hơn năm trước, nếu được bón đủ phân và tưới nước khi thời tiết nắng nhiều

Năm 2003 Viện dinh dưỡng đã hợp tác với Trung tâm CEDERO Bùi Đình Sang và Bùi Đình Oánh, trường Đại học Bách Khoa, Đại học Nông nghiệp 1, Công ty Đồng Nam Dược Hà Nội, xây dựng dự án phát triển trồng gấc quy mô gia đình và công nghiệp, triển khai sản xuất màng đỏ hạt gấc sấy khô, ép dầu gấc xuất khẩu và tiêu dùng nội địa, sản xuất mứt kẹo, bánh kem xốp gấc, sản xuất trứng gà có lượng vitamin A, E cao, cholesterol thấp, góp phần phòng và điều trị một số bệnh mạn tính thiếu vitamin A và tăng cường sức khỏe bền vững cho cộng đồng

Viện dinh dưỡng quốc gia đã khuyến cáo: “Tự chế biến sản phẩm của quả gấc dùng trong cả năm sẽ giúp gia đình bạn có được sức khỏe bền vững trường thọ và hạnh phúc”. Theo đó, mỗi dịp xuân về, mọi gia đình có điều kiện nên trồng gấc, tạo nguồn thực phẩm chức năng, thuốc bổ vô giá, có tác dụng tăng lực và phòng bệnh mạn tính, đảm bảo sức khỏe bền vững cho cả gia đình và cộng đồng…

GS.TS. Bùi Minh Đức
PGS.TS Nguyễn Công Khẩn
Th.s Bùi Minh Thu
Source: http://www.khoe24.vn

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gấc Juice

G3™ is a nutrient-rich juice from the prized Gấc™ “superfruit” of Southern Asia whose nutritional benefits have been scientifically demonstrated to protect and rejuvenate cells. Among Gấc’s™ potent phytonutrients are a unique and highly-bioavailable form of carotenoids called “lipocarotenes™” that provide powerful antioxidant protection while supporting healthy immune function. Science suggests Lipocarotenes™ attract and bind important antioxidants and facilitate their absorption into the body. Due to the high levels of lipocarotenes™, G3™ is the first super fruit blend certified to increase your skin carotenoid score when measured by the BioPhotonic Scanner. The G3™ formula was developed with 3 additional super fruits—Chinese Lycium fruit, Siberian Pineapple, and Cili fruit—that synergistically provide exponential benefit through strong vascular and cellular protection in the body. G3™ has a refreshing flavor that is deliciously sweet, slightly tart and can be enjoyed daily by everyone in the family.

Pharmanex has leveraged research and data from the BioPhotonic Scanner technology to design and develop G3™. Consistent with the Pharmanex 6S Process of quality and efficacy, Pharmanex is pleased to offer a unique fruit-juice blend provided by nature, time-tested through traditional use, and proven efficacious by modern science. G3™ is a blend of all-natural superfruit juices that provide cellular rejuvenation and protection while supporting healthy immune function all in a highly-bioavailable form. G3™ is certified to increase your Skin Carotenoid Score (SCS) with the BioPhotonic Scanner.

The unique combination of phytonutrients in G3™ is derived from carefully selected “superfruits” traditionally used throughout the world for their restorative properties and whose nutritional benefits have been validated through scientific study. G3™ includes juices from the Gấc™ fruit of Southern Asia, Chinese lycium fruit from Southern China, Siberian pineapple fruit from mainland China, and cili fruit from the mountains of China.

6S Process of quality and efficacy, Pharmanex is pleased to offer a unique fruit-juice blend provided by nature, time-tested through traditional use, and proven efficacious by modern science. G3™ is a blend of all-natural superfruit juices that provide cellular rejuvenation and protection while supporting healthy immune function all in a highly-bioavailable form. G3™ is certified to increase your Skin Carotenoid Score (SCS) with the BioPhotonic Scanner.

The unique combination of phytonutrients in G3™ is derived from carefully selected “superfruits” traditionally used throughout the world for their restorative properties and whose nutritional benefits have been validated through scientific study. G3™ includes juices from the Gấc™ fruit of Southern Asia, Chinese lycium fruit from Southern China, Siberian pineapple fruit from mainland China, and cili fruit from the mountains of China.

Natives of Southern Asia have long prized the Gấc™ fruit for its ability to promote longevity and vitality. Savoring this “fruit from heaven,” indigenous people have long believed this ceremonial fruit promotes health and wellness.. This beautiful and bright colored fruit not only has protective benefits for those who partake, but it also naturally protects itself as it ripens by staying intact, even when it falls off the plant, shielding the beneficial ingredients within until needed.

Lipocarotenes are visible in the bottle. Shake well before using. A Lipocarotene™ is a matrix of beta-carotene and fatty acids that enables efficient absorption and transport of beta-carotene and other fat-soluble vitamins. Significant concentrations of long chain fatty acids (~7-10% by weight) are found in the seed membrane and pulp of the Gac fruit. Of the total fat found in Gac, 69% is unsaturated, with 35% of that being polyunsaturated. This oil is also a rich source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

Gac: a Fruit from Heaven

Lycopene and Women's Health

There is evidence that the intake of lycopene may positively impact chronic health concerns that are important to women. These include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, and vision.

In the United States, women who live to be 90 have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, with 205,000 cases expected in 2002 (1). While some studies have found no significant association between dietary lycopene intake and breast cancer, others have found a positive relationship between lycopene in breast tissue and breast cancer risk (2). In cell cultures, lycopene has been found to inhibit breast cancer tumors more efficiently, when compared to alpha and beta-carotene (3). In a case-control study conducted between 1993 and 1999 which examined the relationship between 17 micronutrients and breast cancer risk, lycopene was significantly inversely associated with breast cancer risk. The study reviewed the diets of 289 Swiss women with confirmed breast cancer and 442 controls. Median intake of lycopene in the "high intake" group was 6229 g/day (4). In a study published in 1998, samples taken from The Breast Cancer Serum Bank in Columbia, Missouri were analyzed to evaluate the relationship of levels of carotenoids (including lycopene), selenium and retinol with breast cancer. Only lycopene was found to be associated with a reduced risk for developing breast cancer (5).

Intake of dietary lycopene may also play a role in the prevention of ovarian and cervical cancers. An estimated 23,300 cases of ovarian cancer and 13,000 cases of cervical cancer are expected in the U.S. in 2002 (1). From a population-based study of 549 cases of ovarian cancer and 516 controls, researchers estimated consumption of several antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids including lycopene. Intake of lycopene was significantly and inversely associated with risk for ovarian cancer, predominately in postmenopausal women. The foods most strongly associated with a decreased risk for ovarian cancer were raw carrots and tomato sauce (6). In a study involving 147 confirmed cervical cancer patients and 191 non-cancerous subjects (7), only lycopene was found to be significantly lower in cancerous patients. In another study of non-Hispanic, black women, those women with higher levels of lycopene in the blood were found to have a decreased risk (by 33%) of developing cervical cancer (8).

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. According to the American Heart Association (9), over 32 million American women have one or more types of cardiovascular disease. Studies have indicated that consuming tomatoes and tomato products containing lycopene reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Lycopene intake has also been found to be associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (10). In a study of participants from 10 European countries, it was found that consumption of lycopene in fruits and vegetables might reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease (11). In a recent report from the 2002 American College of Cardiology annual meeting, blood samples from nearly 500 women participating in the Women's Health Study were analyzed. Researchers found that women with the highest levels of plasma lycopene had a 33 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest blood levels (12).

Maintaining healthy vision as people age is an important factor in maintaining their independence. According to the National Eye Institute, over half of all Americans age 65 and older are afflicted with cataracts (13). In one cross-sectional survey of 372 women and women aged 66 to 75 years in Sheffield, England, the risk of cortical cataract was lowest in participants with the highest plasma concentrations of lycopene. The researchers noted the findings suggest that a diet rich in carotenoids may protect against cataract development. This conclusion was based on observational data. Human, randomized controlled trials should be conducted to verify the results (14).

Antioxidants have been suggested to play a role in preeclampsia. In one study, placental tissue, maternal serum, and umbilical cord venous blood levels of four dietary carotenoids (including lycopene) were compared in 22 normal pregnant women and 19 women with preeclampsia. Levels of beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, and lycopene in placentas in preeclamptic women were lower than from those with a normal pregnancy, as were beta-carotene and lycopene levels of maternal serum. These findings suggest that oxidative stress or dietary antioxidants may affect preeclampsia (15).

Lycopene may also improve longevity in women. In a study examining plasma lycopene and longevity in nuns, lycopene and other carotenoids were measured in 94 participants, ages 77 to 99 years, living in the same convent. After six years of follow-up, only 13% of those with low plasma lycopene were still alive, while 48% of those with moderate lycopene and 70% of those with high lycopene were living (P=0.0001). Life table analyses indicated an 11-year difference in life expectancy between those with low and high plasma lycopene (16).

In conclusion, lycopene, as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative stress. It may play an important role in many health concerns for women. These include breast cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, and preeclampsia. In addition, serum lycopene levels in women also appear to be positively correlated with longevity. It is therefore advisable for women to regularly include a food source of lycopene in their diets.