A perfect way to add veggies into your breakfast is a scramble. Sauté your choice of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, or brussels sprouts with good quality olive oil. Add in farm fresh eggs and a small amount of hard cheese like parmesan or cojita. Top with sliced avocado and pair with cherry tomatoes for a dose of the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. Read on for more information about lycopene...
Lycopene, a member of the carotenoid family, is a potent antioxidant which helps to destroy free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecular species which attack macromolecules like lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins leading to cellular damage. Free radicals damage cells by stealing their electrons to become more stable causing healthy cells to lose their ability to function normally. This process is called oxidation. Oxidative stress has been correlated with both cancer and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants like lycopene reduce the formation of free radicals or react with the free radical to neutralize it before it can harm other cells.
Research has found that lycopene helps to prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. Lycopene may also reduce your chance of developing heart disease as it has been shown to reduce "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and also may decrease blood pressure. This amazing carotenoid also has a protective effect against sunburn and skin damage due to UV rays.
The best sources of lycopene include tomatoes and tomato products like freshly made tomato sauce and salsa. Lycopene becomes more available to the body when it is heated and cooked. Cooking tomatoes in a fat like olive oil will increase its absorption by the body because lycopene, like all carotenoids, is fat soluble. Other great sources of lycopene include watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava. Delicious!
For an amazing chart on what foods to eat to increase your intake of beneficial antioxidants like lycopene, click here.
Godman, H. (2012). Lycopene-rich tomatoes linked to lower stroke risk - Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lycopene-rich-tomatoes-linked-to-lower-stroke-risk-201210105400
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