Lycopene is a reddish carotenoid (plant pigment responsible for bright red, yellow and orange colors in many fruits and vegetables) that acts as a potent antioxidant. It can be found most commonly in tomatoes and tomato products, as well as watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava and apricots. It has been shown to help in prevention and treatment of sunburn. It also appears to be better at lessening sunlight-induced oxidative damage to the skin than beta-carotene*. When choosing your tomatoes, the redder the better when it comes to lycopene content!
Want to incorporate some lycopene into your diet this summer? Check out this light and fresh gazpacho recipe, perfect for the summer, below.
Summer Gazpacho Recipe:
- 2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped (in the summer, use garden heirlooms or garden cherry tomatoes for the best flavor)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- ½ medium cucumber, peeled, roughly chopped
- ½ red onion, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar
- 1 medium jalapeño, seeded (or not if you like some heat!) and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Avocado, thinly sliced, if desired
- Put tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, olive oil, vinegar, jalapeño and garlic in a blender; season with salt and pepper.
- Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if needed to get to desired consistency.
- Work in batches if your blender is not large enough or is not high-speed.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Refrigerate up to a few hours before serving to chill. Garnish with avocado slices if desired.
Recipe and article was submitted by Amanda Armington, DC, clinician at the University of Western States campus health center
*Skin lycopene is destroyed preferentially over beta-carotene during ultraviolet irradiation in humans. Journal of Nutrition, 125, 1854–1859.