Lycopene is a plant pigment and carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables their rich reddish color. It can be found in high amounts in pink guava, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit, red peppers, purple cabbage and tomatoes.
Tomatoes are particularly rich in lycopene and studies show that cooking the tomatoes makes lycopene more absorbable. It is recommended to consume lycopene with a source of fat, further increasing it's absorption. Tasty examples of healthy fats to pair with lycopene include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, fresh avocado, nuts and seeds.
This powerful antioxidant is known for it's ability to lower the risk of heart disease, help prevent the oxidation of healthy fat cells and protect against damage to DNA from free radicals. Lycopene is a powerhouse against heart disease because it lowers LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol we don't want excessive amounts of sticking to the arterial walls and creating blockages that cause serious heart disease as well as other heart conditions.
Boost your intake! Use stewed or strained tomatoes in sauces, chilli dishes, soups, marinades and stews. Drink tomato juice paired with a small handful of raw cashews or pistachios or smear tomato paste on whole grain pizza dough or bread, drizzle with olive oil and fresh arugula, red peppers, mushrooms and capers.
Enjoy creating dishes by pairing lycopene rich fruits and vegetables with a source of healthy fat for maximum absorption. Eat a variety of colors, textures and different foods daily.
Eat the rainbow! A diet full of fresh whole food is essential to the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.