Lycopene belongs to the carotenoid family. It is a pigment present in some fruits that give their bright red color. Among these dietary components, it is easily one of the most abundant with antioxidant properties. A number of studies find that regular consumption of fruits and products with lycopene can decrease the risks of contracting chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer to name a few.
Meanwhile, other researchers claim that lycopene can easily be absorbed in the body circulation if it is taken with a source of fat. One claim or another, however, lycopene is definitely an important antioxidant and can greatly help maintain a healthy diet.
Sources of Lycopene
Fortunately, lycopene is really common in orangey fruits and other products that you can get from almost any grocery store. Below is a list of the best sources of lycopene according to the USDA Food Consumption Databases. This could surprise you how easily accessible these products are as you might even find some in stock around your kitchen.
One of the most popular fruits that contain lycopene are tomatoes. Studies suggest that lycopene is mostly found in food and dishes cooked with tomato, even claiming that processed tomatoes are more likely to have better levels of lycopene. These include ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato juice, puree, or canned tomatoes. You can also consider adding a bit of oil or salt to them not just for taste, but also for faster intake of lycopene. Cooking these into soups or serving them in salads will surely impress. All of which are conveniently ready to be purchased at your local grocery, or prepared at the comfort of your home.
Guavas are abundantly found growing among areas with tropical trees and weather. Although they are also popular in supermarkets just around the corner. These vary in color and can sometimes be anywhere between pink to a deep red. Studies show that this fruit gives the most level of lycopene when eaten raw. There are many preparations that can be done with guava. You can have them sliced and added to salads, or eaten as desserts. Some countries even make paste or jelly out of the fruit containing plenty of lycopene for each intake.
Another refreshing fruit on the list is watermelon. In fact, these are popularly sold especially during the summer season. Not only does it give good levels of lycopene, but it also hydrates the body with its high water content of 92%. Also, just like any fruit, it has low calories which means it can make you full without the high-calorie count. Watermelon can be served sliced on a plate, mixed into a fruit shake, or chopped into a salsa. One way or the other, it will surely be a staple for a healthy diet.
This list would not be complete without Papaya, one of the most commonly cultivated fruits in the tropics. This fruit can either be red or yellow depending on the location it grows in. It can be eaten raw but without the seeds, or it can also be added to stews and salads depending on your preference. Some cultures also use their seeds as part of the dishes, especially in Asian cuisine. It packs good taste and nutrition in one.
If you are looking for a fruit with a more tangy and citrus taste that gives a healthy dose of lycopene, then grapefruits are a great option. It can come in either a red or pink color. The fruit is often described as having the sweet and sour taste of a lemon or an orange. These are commonly peeled and parted as oranges, but can also be sliced in the middle for a more equal partition. However, research suggests that too much grapefruit can affect certain medication. It would be best to consult with a professional doctor before eating too many.
6. Red Bell Peppers
Being the first vegetable on the list are red bell peppers. These are popularly used in cuisine and is considered among the most versatile vegetables around. With its wide range of flavors, it can easily be a key ingredient to your staple dishes. This can be served with almost any dish that has vegetables in it. You can also stuff the chicken or other meat, season some rice with it and you can have yourself a full meal filled with lycopene.
There are many types of mangoes that it has varying characteristics when ripe. Some turn yellow, orange, green or red. Most people are fond of mangoes as desserts, or as refreshing citrus snacks as its taste can range from sweet to sour. In Asian cultures, mangoes are popular whether it is ripe or not. They are commonly prepared with sticky rice or shrimp paste as a healthy snack. It tastes perfectly on its own as well. It surprisingly does not only have lycopene, but also vitamins A, C, and B-6.
Another vegetable listed in this compilation is carrots. As a vegetable, it is also considered one of the most versatile items in the list when it comes to cuisine. Carrots can be found in almost any type of dish — soups, stews, side dishes, salads, main courses, and even snacks. It can be eaten raw or cooked depending on what goes with your meal. It has sufficient nutrients like beta carotene, as well as carotenoids like lycopene that help fight cancer and heart diseases. In fact, some studies even suggest that the juice of carrots shows the potential to fight leukemia.
There you have it, a list of the best sources for lycopene. Not only do these items taste good, but they are also conveniently accessible and versatile as well. If you are looking for a diet that can help prevent risks of heart disease or cancer, then these fruits and vegetables could be your go-to ingredients. Recipes can be found online, and you can always serve these as sides or snacks without the hassle of full-blown meal preparation.
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