Why Do We Need Lycopene Anyway?

If you regularly read about eating healthy foods, then I’m sure you’ve read it too … “Tomato sauce provides us more lycopene than raw tomatoes.”

But rarely do we hear why we need lycopene. So here is the scoop on lycopene and the “why” for which we need to eat our spaghetti.

What is lycopene?

Lycopene is a disease fighting antioxidant. It is found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, guava, papaya, and, of course, red and orange tomatoes. It is the compound that gives these foods their color. And lycopene comes in different forms too. Some of which are easier for our body to absorb. While it is true that red tomatoes have more lycopene than do orange ones, the orange varieties (while harder to find) provide a form of lycopene that our bodies more readily use. And, for instance, heating up tomatoes as you would when making tomato sauce (vs. raw tomatoes) creates another form of lycopene which is easier to absorb. That is why tomato sauce is a better source for lycopene than raw tomatoes and why we should eat our spaghetti … preferably with sauce made from orange tomatoes.

Lycopene is believed to …

  1. Be good for heart health as it may lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. Have anti-cancer protective effects, especially for protection against prostate, lung, and stomach cancers.
  3. Be an excellent source for managing high blood pressure (recent studies say).

And another good-to-know tidbit …

Eat your lycopene with a healthy fat, such as olive oil. Lycopene needs fat to latch onto in order to be absorbed by the intestinal wall.

So add a little olive oil to that spaghetti.