Ladling on love

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 12th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Oysters. Chocolate. Truffles. These are the foods we usually associate with romantic love. But men truly interested in l’amour [la-moor] might want to reach for a bowl of steamy bowl of tomato soup instead.

British researchers conducted a small study that shows lycopene [LIE-ko-peen], the pigment that gives tomatoes their bright red color, may play a role in fertility. In the study, six healthy men in their forties consumed a bowl of tomato soup every day for two weeks. Lycopene levels in their semen increased seven to twelve percent, which was considered significant.

According to the study, which was published in the British Journal of Urology, infertile men typically have lower levels of lycopene. Although scientists are still trying to determine the exact effects of the powerful antioxidant, some believe it may counteract harmful free radicals that can inhibit fertility.

The researchers next plan to study the effects of lycopene in infertile men.

Lycopene has long been touted for its health benefits. Some researchers believe it may help prevent or slow the growth of cancers in the prostate, lung and stomach. It is also thought to help lower bad cholesterol in the body.

Lycopene isn’t without its share of controversy, though. The U-S Food and Drug Administration recently announced there is almost no evidence lycopene has any effect on cancer prevention.

While tomatoes might be the most common way to load up on lycopene, and who doesn’t like a hot cup of soup or a big bowl of pasta with sauce, it’s not the only food that contains the antioxidant. Other good sources include watermelon, pink grapefruit and papaya.