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Lycopene Lovers

tomato

The Tomato family is walking down the street. There’s Mama, Papa and Baby tomato.

They are walking at a good pace when Baby starts lagging behind. Papa tomato begins to get mad. By the third block Papa is so furious that he runs back and with his fist, squashes Baby tomato.  He smiles and says, ”Ketchup!”

Did you know that tomatoes are a rich source of disease fighting antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin C, and lycopene? Studies show that daily consumption of lycopene-rich foods may substantially reduce the “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It may also lower blood pressure, decreasing the risk for coronary heart disease.

Heat-processed tomato products, including spaghetti sauce and ketchup, can deliver over six times more lycopene than the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes.  This is because of the concentration increases during the cooking process. Lycopene is also fat soluble, meaning it is more easily absorbed if eaten with fat containing foods.  Add a little olive oil, cheese or meat to your favorite tomato-based dish to reap the full benefits of lycopene.

There is no set daily recommendation for lycopene, however, eating a balanced diet, which incorporates lycopene-rich foods, has been shown to have beneficial health effects. You can also try including other foods that are high in lycopene, such as watermelon and pink grapefruit.

All of the following food items are readily available in the dining halls

lyc2

Revised by:  Miranda Schlitt         Reviewed by:  Dr. Sherman, Department of Nutritional Sciences

References: How Lycopene helps to Prevent Cancer. Available at: http://pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-lycopene-helps-protect-against-cancer. Accessed on: April 26, 2013. Nutrition and Prostate Health.  Available at: http://pcrm.org/search/?cid=3559. Accessed on: April 26, 2013.

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