Fast Facts: Lycopene

lycopene nutrition

It’s red, it’s hot, and you need to know about it.

WHAT is it?

  • a naturally occurring carotenoid (pigment) that gives fruits and veggies their RED color
  • It’s an antioxidant! That means that eating foods with lycopene actually repairs the damage done by processed foods/pesticides or other toxins. THAT’S AWESOME!
  • one word: superfood. Superfoods (also known as functional foods) have health benefits beyond normal nutrition. So not only are you working your way towards your 5 a day fruit/veggie goal, but you are doing your body a whole lot more when consuming lycopene-rich foods.

WHY do you need it?

  • lowers blood pressure, can prevent heart disease AND helps to lower our bad cholesterol (wow.)
  • works to fight off cancer. How?  It’s antioxidant properties, that’s how. Fighting off free radicals (free radicals disrupt normal cell growth and help cancer cells grow) and preventing cancer cell formation

HOW do you get it?

  • add some HEAT – cooking tomatoes to form sauces, paste, ketchup, juice etc is a great way to get lycopene. Also cooking red peppers and asparagus. Adding heat helps get lycopene in the best shape to be absorbed by your body
  • raw: watermelon, grapefruit, tomato, guava, papaya

NEED to know more?

  • Check out this awesome study – completed at the Alma Mater of yours truly. The Nun Study is old, in terms of research relevance, but it’s an awesome representation of our aging bodies and has a great excerpt about lycopene and heart health.

    “The nuns with the highest blood concentrations of lycopene were the most able to care for themselves and complete everyday tasks. Overall, those with the highest levels of lycopene were 3.6 times better able to function in their everyday lives than those with the lowest levels. Most interestingly, no similar relationship between vigor und the presence of other antioxidants (such as vitamin E and beta-carotene) was found.”

  • The Nun Study
  • FUN FACT: ALL of the Nuns in this study agreed to donate their brains after their death to make sure this research continues, even when they pass. Those are some really awesome, forward-thinking ladies.