Increased intakes of antioxidant carotenoids, and particularly lycopene, may reduce the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome by about 50 per cent, says a new study.
Writing in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Dutch scientists report that middle-aged and elderly men with highest average intake of all carotenoids had a 58 per cent lower incidence of metabolic syndrome, while the highest intake of lycopene was associated with a 45 per cent lower incidence, compared to men with the lowest average intakes.
A potentially protective effect was also observed for beta-carotene intakes, report the researchers, led by Ivonne Sluijs from the University Medical Center Utrecht.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type 2 diabetes and CVD.
Fifteen per cent of adult Europeans are estimated to be affected by MetS, while the US statistic is estimated to be a whopping 32 per cent. Obesity is established to be the main risk factor for MetS.
â€śHigher total carotenoid, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene intakes were associated with lower waist circumferences and visceral and subcutaneous fat mass,â€ť wrote Sluijs and her co-workers. â€śHigher lycopene intake was related to lower serum triglyceride concentrations,â€ť they added.
The findings were based on data from a population-based, cross-sectional study involving 374 men aged between 40 and 80, 22 per cent of whom had metabolic syndrome. Intakes of the carotenoids, including alpha- and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).
Sluijs and her co-workers report that high intakes of all these compounds was associated with lower incidence of the syndrome, and that lycopene and beta-carotene in particular were linked to apparent protective effects.
â€śIn conclusion, higher total carotenoid intakes, mainly those of beta-carotene and lycopene, were associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and with lower measures of adiposity and serum triglyceride concentrations in middle-aged and elderly men,â€ť wrote the researchers.
Author: Stephen Daniells