Photo courtesy of : http://mudhaa.com/catalog/images/tomatoes.jpg
Background: I was recently asked to write an article about lycopene. I knew lycopene was found in tomatoes but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on it. My search for the topic has taught me that lycopene can be found in any red fruit (watermelon, beetroot, even apricots, peaches and guava). However, lycopene is at its highest concentration in tomatoes (the riper the tomato the higher its lycopene content).
Why: General scientific belief is that lycopene (directly ingested as opposed to taken as a supplement) has anti-cancer properties particularly against prostate cancer.
More info please: Lycopenes are the strongest known ingestible anti-oxidants with a superior 0xygen-binding capability. This means that the DNA in our cells is protected from oxygen damage and possibly cancerous changes. Processed tomatoes (such as canned tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato purees even tomato sauce/ketchup) have the greatest concentration of lycopenes. The effect of lycopene is enhanced with heating and is more easily absorbed when a fat is ingested with it (e.g. olive oil).
Now, I think lasagne, pizza or even a hearty vegetable bake might be on the menu tonight!
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