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A Look at The Antioxidant Lycopene (& Why Tomatoes are a Great Way to Get It)Published:
Maintaining a balanced, nutritional diet isn’t always that easy. You’ve got a lot to think about, from ensuring you’re consuming sufficient protein, to getting all of your key vitamins, and having the time to focus on it. And we don’t want to add more to your plate, but we do want to talk about another antioxidant power player you should take into consideration.
It’s called lycopene and it can do a lot for your body. No, seriously, a lot. And it’s super easy to add to your diet, too. Let’s talk details!
Why you should care about lycopene
Lycopene is a nutrient found in plants. And reason numero uno why it’s awesome is that it’s a powerful antioxidant. Your body needs antioxidants to defend against free radicals, compounds that cause oxidative stress (oxidative stress is linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes — basically, it’s bad.)
Antioxidants counter oxidative stress, keeping your body healthy and defending against these health conditions. All antioxidants are good, but lycopene might offer a little something special. Some studies have shown that it can help protect your body against the damage of a lot of modern-day health hazards like pesticides, herbicides, and MSG.
And that’s not all. Lycopene has been linked to defense against heart disease, eye issues, the death of bone cells, and reduced sunburn severity. For real. Studies have shown that the skin of people who ingest more lycopene showed less UV damage after sun exposure.
How to get lycopene
And, good news, you don’t have to worry about taking some fancy supplement to get lycopene. 80% of the American diet’s lycopene is sourced from a single food: tomatoes.
Plus, processed tomatoes (like ketchup and pasta sauces) actually have higher levels of lycopene than unprocessed ones, so turns out that bottle of Heinz languishing in your fridge is a healthy addition to your next meal (just watch the sugars).
Sun-dried tomatoes are particularly high in lycopene too. Looking for a way to upgrade your next salad or pizza while giving your health a boost? Toss ‘em on there!