The World's Healthiest Foods

Lycopene Fights Infertility

A recent study conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences found that lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, papaya and watermelon, can boost sperm concentrations in infertile men. Six pregnancies followed as a result of this successful trial.

The researchers studied 30 infertile men aged 23 to 45 who had been infertile for between one and 20 years, and in whom its cause was unexplained. The patients suffered from a deficiency of sperm in semen, abnormal sperm structures, impaired sperm mobility and activity— and some had all three sperm defects.

After taking 2 mg of lycopene daily for three months, 67% of the patients had an improvement in the condition of their sperm. Sperm mobility and activity were improved in 73% of patients, and 63% showed an improvement in the sperm structure.

The doctors, found a direct correlation between lycopene levels and infertility, specifically, they noted a statistically significant improvement in sperm concentration and motility.

The researchers initiated their trial based on the fact that lycopene is one of the 650 carotenoids found in high concentration in male testes, and lower levels of lycopene are found in infertile males.

Its unqualified success led them to conclude "Oral lycopene therapy does seem to have a positive effect in the management of infertility of unknown causes."

This research follows in the footsteps of an earlier study conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. In this study researchers evaluated the association between the concentrations of antioxidants and antisperm antibody titers in immunoinfertile men. In immunoinfertility, a man’s immune system develops antibodies to his own sperm.

In addition to lycopene, researchers evaluated seminal plasma concentrations of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E in 37 men, aged 27 to 35 years, 22 of whom were fertile and 15 who were immunoinfertile. In the immnuoinfertile men, levels of lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin A, were significantly decreased when compared to the fertile men.

Lycopene has also been shown in a number of studies to offer significant protection against potentially life-threatening diseases, including prostate cancer, atherosclerosis, and asthma. For a look at some of this research, click on the following links to earlier Healthy Food News stories: Lycopene—A Woman’s Heart’s Best Friend, Lycopene—Potent Antioxidant Protection.

Want to increase your intake of lycopene? This beneficial antioxidant is abundant in several of the World’s Healthiest Foods. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene: 100 grams of fresh tomatoes contain between .88-4.20 mg of lycopene, but cooked tomatoes, especially when they are concentrated as they are in tomato paste, is an even better source: 100 grams of tomato paste provides between 5.40-150 mg of lycopene. And be sure to add a little olive oil—by eating lycopene-rich foods with some healthful fat, the absorption of this protective nutrient is significantly increased: 100 grams of sun-dried tomato in oil provides 46.5 mg of lycopene.

If tomatoes do not agree with you, the World’s Healthiest Foods provide a variety of other lycopene-rich sources, including apricots (.86 mg of lycopene per 100 grams), pink grapefruit (3.36 mg of lycopene per 100 grams), fresh papaya (2.00-5.30 mg of lycopene per 100 grams), and watermelon (2.30-7.20 mg of lycopene per 100 grams).

For suggestions as to how to enjoy these lycopene-rich members of the World's Healthiest Foods more often, click on the Recipe Assistant, select any of these foods on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing the food chosen will appear immediately below.

References: “Fruit Fights Infertility”, All India Institute of Medical Sciences study reported in BBC News Online, December 18, 2000. Palan P, Naz R. Changes in various antioxidant levels in human seminal plasma related to immunoinfertility. Arch Androl 1996 Mar-Apr;36(2):139-43.

This page was updated on: 2002-06-17 23:49:59
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation