It’s still early, but those Movember Mustaches are starting to make an appearance! Men everywhere are giving their razors a holiday in order to raise money in support of men’s health! Fortunately, I will not be growing a mustache this November. In order to show my support for this excellent cause I have decided to shine the spotlight on an amazing nutrient that is particularly important for Men’s health; Lycopene!
Lycopene is a naturally occurring red coloured plant pigment that gives tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, red bell peppers and other delicious fruits and vegetables their vibrant colour. A member of the carotenoid family, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. Interestingly, lycopene is fat a fat soluble nutrient indicating that it is best absorbed when consumed with a source of healthy dietary fat.
While most foods are negatively impacted by over cooking, lycopene seems to be the exception! Heating a tomato sauce for a long period of time seems to increase its bio-availability and make it more readily absorbed by the body. Sun dried tomatoes are especially high in dietary bioavailable lycopene.
As an antioxidant, lycopene protects against oxidative stress. Oxidation contributes to a number of chronic diseases including atherosclerosis. And, most relevant to men’s health, lycopene intake is associated with a decrease in cancers, especially prostate. It appears that lycopene can prevent the development of prostate cancer, prevent DNA damage of prostate cells, and prevent prostate cancer cells from multiplying or reproducing.
Need some ways to add more lycopene into your diet? Give these a try!
- Make your own lycopene rich tomato sauces soups and stews by combining fresh diced tomatoes with jars of crushed or diced organic tomatoes (avoid canned whenever possible.) Add in tomato juices and paste and simmer on the stove for as long as you can. Your house will smell heavenly and you will be enjoying a hefty dose of lycopene too!
- Make fresh tomato salads topped with fresh basil and olive oil!
- Start the day with a 1/2 a pink grapefruit! Be sure to enjoy this along with a healthy source of protein and fats in order to keep your meal macro nutrient balanced.
- Add a slice of guava to your morning smoothie Next summer, when watermelon is in season, keep some sliced up for you to enjoy at any time.
- Slice red bell peppers up to dip in hummus or guacamole for a mid day snack.
Do you love lycopene? Think about adding more of this important pigment into your diet.