Why lycopene is good for you?
Lycopene is a carotenoid. It’s a powerful antioxidant with great health benefits.
As many chronic diseases are caused by oxidative damage, we should consume antioxidants to help the body neutralize free radicals. Excess amounts of free radicals cause oxidative stress.
Hence, we should follow a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, polyphenols, and carotenoids. A healthy plant-based diet can provide all the antioxidant compounds that we need. There is no need to buy supplements.
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. Most animal products don’t contain any significant amount of antioxidants.
Lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It’s twice more powerful than beta-carotene and 10 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol. Moreover, lycopene is the most predominant carotenoid in the blood.
Furthermore, lycopene has many health benefits:
- eyesight. Researchers found that lycopene can protect your eyesight. Lycopene helped in therapy against cataracts.
- bones. Lycopene is good for bone health and it can even restore bone strength.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Lycopene may delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
How much lycopene do we need per day?
Currently, there isn’t an official recommended daily intake for lycopene. However, many studies have reported great health benefits for a daily lycopene intake of 15-30 mg. Most people don’t consume more than 10 mg of lycopene per day, though.
Foods high in lycopene
Only a few foods contain high amounts of lycopene. Sun-fried tomatoes are the best dietary sources of lycopene. Guava, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and papaya are also excellent sources of lycopene.
Furthermore, all processed tomato products, such as tomato juice, paste, soup, sauce, and ketchup contain high amounts of lycopene.
How much lycopene in one tomato?
According to the USDA, 100g of raw tomato has 2.6 mg of lycopene.
Practically, the lycopene content of a:
- small tomato (2-2/5″) is 2.3 mg,
- medium tomato (2-3/5″) is 3.2 mg,
- large tomato (3″) is 4.7 mg,
- cup of chopped tomatoes is 4.6 mg.
Green, yellow, or orange tomato varieties have insignificant amounts of lycopene.
Lycopene in tomato juice, paste, soup, sauce & ketchup
The main dietary source of lycopene in a standard Western diet is processed tomato products, as lycopene isn’t destroyed by processing methods:
- tomato juice has 9 mg.
- ketchup has 14.2 mg.
- tomato paste has 7.5 mg,
- sun-dried tomatoes have 46 mg,
- tomato soup has 5.5 mg,
- tomato sauce has 16 mg.
Certainly, sun-dried tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene. Most noteworthy, lycopene in processed tomato products is more bioavailable than raw tomatoes. Processing enhances lycopene bioavailability. Additionally, bioavailability of lycopene is significantly higher when we consume it along with foods rich in beta-carotene!
Hence, pasta with tomato sauce is good for you. Moreover, pasta and tomato sauce are both low in calories, helping you lose weight! More about pasta and weight loss here.