5 Delicious Ways to Get More Lycopene Into Your Diet

1
What Is Lycopene and Why Do I Need It?

Tomatoes in a crate
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Lycopene is a plant pigment that gives foods like tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon their red and pink colors. That's kind of cool. But what's even better is that lycopene is an antioxidant compound that can fight free-radical damage to the cells in your body and possibly help reduce your risk of certain diseases. 

Lycopene is part of the carotenoid family, which is a group of compounds related to vitamin A. Other important carotenoids include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.

Various studies have suggested that eating a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related eye disorders such as macular degeneration. But, I want to be clear -- I think it's important to know that these studies are based on observation and not clinical trials. So it's possible that something other than the lycopene is because of the benefits. Foods that are high in lycopene also tend to be high in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. 

That's also why I think it's important to get your lycopene from foods rather than pills. Sure, you can get plenty of lycopene from supplements, but then you'd miss out on all the additional nutrients.

Flip through the slideshow to see five delicious ways to get plenty of lycopene from your diet each day.

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Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti
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Fresh foods are generally better for your health. But, when it comes to lycopene, you're better off with processed foods -- it's actually absorbed better from cooked or processed tomatoes.

Spaghetti sauce (or any red sauce made from tomatoes) is rich in lycopene and other vitamins and minerals. Try making your spaghetti sauce or look for brands that are low in sodium and made with healthy ingredients, like Eden Organic Spaghetti Sauce. Make it a healthy meal by serving on whole grain pasta with a garden salad on the side. 

3
Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice
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Drinking tomato juice as a beverage is another delicious way to get lycopene. One cup of tomato juice has lycopene, is low in calories and also has plenty of vitamin A and vitamin C. Look for brands like R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie Juice -- it's organic and lower in sodium than other grocery store brands. Add a dash or two of red pepper sauce for a little extra zing.

4
A Big Slice of Watermelon

Watermelon
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Take a watermelon and cut it into several pieces. You'll get a bit of lycopene in every bite. Watermelon is also a delicious source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Plus it's low in calories. Watermelon can be served all alone or for a wonderful salad.

5
Salsa

Salsa and Chips
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Using salsa as a dip or a topping is another great way to get plenty of lycopene. Make your own salsa or buy a healthy ready-to-serve salsa like Muir Glen Organic Salsa. It's such a versatile food -- salsa is a natural with baked tortilla chips, but it also tastes great with eggs, or on top of potatoes.

6
Pink Grapefruit or Pink Grapefruit Juice

Pink Grapefruit
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Pink grapefruit doesn't have as much lycopene as the other foods in this slideshow, but it's still a good source. Pink grapefruit is also low in calories and is a tasty source of vitamins A and C. You can also enjoy pink grapefruit juice to get some lycopene in your diet, just watch out for any added sugar. 

Sources:

American Cancer Society. "Lycopene." Accessed April 14, 2016. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/lycopene

Natural Medicines. "Lycopene." Accessed April 14, 2016. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Accessed April 14, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search

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