Lycopene, found primarily in tomatoes, is a member of the carotenoid family — which includes beta-carotene and similar compounds found naturally in food — and has potent antioxidant capabilities.

In Europe, researchers have found a statistically significant association between high dietary lycopene and a 48 percent lower risk of heart disease.

Lycopene supplementation has also boosted immune function in the elderly. In that trial, 15 mg of lycopene per day increased natural killer cell activity by 28 percent in 12 weeks.

Tomatoes and tomato containing foods are high in lycopene. In a Harvard study, the only tomato based food that did not correlate with protection was tomato juice. In an unblinded, controlled trial, lycopene supplementation, but not tomato juice, effectively increased the body’s lycopene stores.

Eat the Tomato

These studies suggest that the lycopene present in tomato juice is poorly absorbed. However, other research indicates that significant amounts of lycopene from tomato juice can, in fact, be absorbed.

Other foods that contain lycopene include watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava.

Broiled Tomatoes Recipe

Broiled tomatoes are so good and they’re easy to prepare and so tasty with the addition of Parmesan cheese.

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat broiler. Halve four large tomatoes and arrange (cut side up) on foil-lined cookie sheet. Top each half with salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with as little olive oil. Broil 2 or 3 minutes or until cheese melts and tomatoes are hot.

Suggestions: Corn bread from a mix is excellent (and quick) with this side dish. A refreshing, cool sorbet makes a great dessert.

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

When your garden comes in and you have lots of fresh, juicy tomatoes, try these healthy, nutrient packed tuna stuffed tomatoes.

  • 1 large tomato (drained)
  • 1 can (6-1/2 oz) tuna (drained)
  • 1/4 cup (6-1/2 oz) diced celery
  • 2-teaspoons pickle relish
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Combine drained tuna with diced celery, pickle relish and mayonnaise. Then cut from top of tomato (stem on bottom); cutting down to make four pieces, but not cutting down all the way. Fill the tomato with tuna mixture. Recipe makes 4 servings stuffed tomatoes.

Read More: Essential Nutrients