An antioxidant called Bob
Lycopene and me, we go way back and I think it is my favourite antioxidant. Firstly it’s the word itself, I love the look of it, the sound of it, the way the word feels when you wrap your mouth around it, ly-co-pene. It’s one of the main reasons this blog is called “Limes and Lycopene”, I just love the word.
But it’s not only that, lycopene is a strapping, robust, no nonsense, no faffing about antioxidant. No prissy, princess-like behaviour for lycopene, instead you can expose it to sunlight, heat it up, subject it to full scale commercial manufacturing processes and lycopene just gets better and better.
Antioxidants are really good for us and protect us from many degenerative diseases, so we want a lot of these in our diet. They are found in a number of different foods, so if you’re eating a varied diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, then there’s a good chance you’re getting plenty of these little critters.
The problem is many antioxidants, like vitamin C, are fragile, heat them up a bit, expose them to some sunlight and they start degenerating and reducing in efficacy. Whereas lycopene is not only undiminished by cooking and processing, it actually becomes more available to us. Cooked tomatoes are a better source than fresh tomatoes and manufactured tomato products, like tomato soup, sauce and juice are even better again: tomato sauce has four times more bioavailable lycopene, than fresh tomatoes.
My history with lycopene was cemented at the first cooking class I ever held. When asked if it was better to eat vegies raw, I launched into the story of lycopene, when suddenly I realised my mind was blank and the name of the antioxidant was nowhere to be found. I stood there with a kitchen knife in one hand, staring at the tomatoes in front of me and yet the word lycopene would not come back. My lovely, helpful friend Carolyn suggested the name Bob be used in the interim, so I spent the next few minutes discussing the wonders of Bob the antioxidant.
In terms of this blog, the name “Limes and Lycopene” also represents the subjects of this blog – it’s about food, about fresh ingredients, about cooking, but it’s also about why that food is good or bad for us and how to improve wellbeing and make better health choices.