Lycopene is the bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is known as a powerful antioxidant or super antioxidant which means it has the ability to fend off free radicals in our bodies. Free radical damage is caused by everyday occurrences, factors such as exercise, stress, pollution, cigarette smoke etc. all cause free radical damage.
The Benefits of Tomato Paste
A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that Lycopene is 10 times greater in tomato paste as opposed to fresh tomatoes making it more bioavailable for the body to absorb. Several studies have linked lycopene with cancer protection, specifically prostate cancer protection.
While lycopene is present in other fruits such as watermelon and guava, tomatoes account for 80% of the lycopene in the North American diet. Research shows that single daily servings of processed tomato products produce significant increases of lycopene concentrations in blood and buccal mucosal cells in healthy adults. Lycopene is fat soluble which means it is best absorbed by the body when consumed with a high quality fat.
I have provided a link below on making your own tomato paste from scratch with the addition of organic extra virgin olive oil for optimal absorption. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the lymph, transported in the blood, and can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues for use as needed.
There are lycopene supplements available today as well, If you live in a location where fresh tomatoes are not available this could be an option for you as well, just be sure to ingest the supplement with a high quality fat like stated above, this could also be extra virgin coconut oil or avocado. If choosing a supplement always consult with your health care provider first, as lycopene in a supplement form is very different that in a whole food source. Lastly be sure to choose a high quality supplement free of any additives or excipients.
Tomatoes and Heart Health
Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis. As cited from: Http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44
Most conventional brands of tomato paste on the market today are in small cans or in plastic squish tubes. I always try to steer people away from buying canned or plastic products due to the chemicals found in the lining of the products themselves.
Tomato paste can be used in a variety of delicious ways, try it on chilis, soups, omelettes, salsas, etc. Here is what to do: make your own tomato paste, store it in glass jar (to avoid BPA)
Follow this link to see how fresh and easy jarring your very own tomato paste can be!: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-tomato-paste-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-206853
“The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Lycopene Is More Bioavailable from Tomato Paste than from Fresh Tomatoes. Institut Für Physiologische Chemie I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.
“The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Lycopene Is More Bioavailable from Tomato Paste than from Fresh Tomatoes. Institut Für Physiologische Chemie I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany., n.d. Web.
Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, Know the Difference Between Fat- and Water-Soluble Nutrients. 2005-2013. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/fat-water-nutrient.