Radiation damage is of serious concern for cancer patients and everyday individuals alike. Until now, protecting against these harmful rays has been nearly impossible. Lycopene, the compound that gives tomatoes their bright red color, is a strong dietary antioxidant, proving to have a strong protective component against radiation. Yet another reason why we need to instill more trust in mother nature!
Lycopene is that naturally occurring chemical compound that gives a wide range of fruits and vegetable their bright red hue. One of a number of pigments called “carotenoids,” lycopene is found in its highest amount and concentration in tomatoes. In fact, in the North American diet, 85% of our dietary lycopene is derived from tomatoes and its byproducts, like tomato juice and paste. Supplemental to tomato’s radiation-fighting effects, its benefits include:
- Prevents and stops the oxidization of free radicals
- Helps treat infertility
- Aids in the prevention of diabetes
- Offsets age-related macular degeneration
- Prevents skin aging by boosted collagen
- Prevents osteoporosis
Lycopene is one of many compounds that is more easily accessed and absorbed by the human body when it’s heated. With that, to increase the health benefits of tomatoes be sure to cook them!
Study: Lycopene May Protect Against Cancer
According to a new study conducted by Keele University, dietary lycopene is extremely successful at protecting the body the harmful effects of radiation. This research is promising for the future, proving to be potentially useful in limiting to negative side-effects of cancer radiation therapies. Here are some of their findings:
- Lycopene’s protects cell membranes from damage-by-radiation
- Lycopene’s protective effects reduced as oxygen concentration increased, meaning that high oxygen concentrations lycopene will lead to improved cancer therapy using radiation
- Lycopene is the strongest carotenoids reducing agent, leading researchers to believe that it is the ultimate protectant against gamma radiation
Lycopene-Rich Turmeric Tomato Soup
This vibrant colorful (vegan-friendly) is high in lycopene and chock full of other disease-fighting foods, like turmeric and garlic cloves. Plus, it can be made in a short 15 minutes. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in halves
- 1 can diced tomatoes (don’t drain the sauce)
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 minced onion
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Fry onion and garlic in coconut oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Add turmeric, cherry tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft.
- Add canned tomatoes, stock, ACV, and basil. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, then cover and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Blend using a blender or hand mixer until creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Bright Roasted Tomato Salsa
Skip the store-bought packaged salsa and wow your taste buds with this new exciting take on a Mexican classic!
- 12-14 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
- handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- juice of a lime
- olive oil
- salt + pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 475ºF.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil (this is not necessary but makes for easier cleanup). Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned. Remove and let cool.
- Place the tomatoes in a bowl with the onion and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, the lime juice and a olive oil to coat. Mix to combine.