Lycopene – the health benefits.

The humble watermelon has for a long time been seen as just a summer favorite for picnics or backyard barbecues. However, a researcher has shown this fruit is amazingly healthy. It contains high levels of the immune system-strengthening vitamin C as well as being a good source of vitamin A, mostly in the form of beta-carotene. In addition,  it is a good source of healthy heart minerals, magnesium and potassium.

However, recent research has shown watermelon is moving up the list of foods containing lycopene. That is a carotenoid phytonutrient which gives foods their bright vibrant red, orange or yellow colors, essential for coronary health. It is also a powerful antioxidant that helps eliminate dangerous free radicals from our system. In addition, research has linked increased quantities of lycopene in the blood system to protection against stroke.

According to Dr. Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, we should get about 10,000 microgrammes of lycopene from food every day. Whilst that may sound like a lot, a tablespoon of homemade tomato salsa contains approximately 1,600 microgrammes of lycopene. An average slice of watermelon provides approximately 12,000

So should you just increase your intake of tomato-based foods and reap the benefits? That all depends. As tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, some find they cause a problem with arthritis. So watermelon is a great way to increase your intake of lycopene if you are afflicted with arthritis. Besides tomatoes and watermelon, guavas and grapefruit also are great sources of lycopene.

Why not try this healthy smoothie recipe as a great way to boost your intake of lycopene and keep cool this summer?

1 medium sized wedge of watermelon – cubed

1 handful of frozen strawberries

150 ml (5 oz) of water

Put everything in a blender and blend for 60 seconds and serve!



Health / USDA Nutritional Database

World’s Healthiest Foods

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