Ketchup Is A Health Food?
If, while attending a banquet, you want to cause those around you to gasp in horror, and also give the waiter a heart attack, ask for ketchup.
Poor ketchup. Disdained by fancy folks around the world, ketchup never gets any respect. But it should.
Ketchup's made from tomatoes, and tomatoes contain lycopene, a substance whose mission is to wipe out the bad guys that rust out your body parts.
When tomatoes are cooked and pureed, as in ketchup, the lycopene is easier for your body to absorb. It's like sending in a Navy Seal instead of a Boy Scout--both good, but with different levels of power.
Ketchup contains lycopene
Tomato paste and puree also ramp up lycopene's power, but I prefer to talk about ketchup, mainly because it's so frowned upon in polite society. Plus, since not everybody knows what tomato paste or puree are, I might cause eyes to glaze over. But even little kids know about ketchup. Yum!
So, let's talk ketchup. Specifically, organic ketchup. One study found organic ketchup contains three times as much lycopene as non-organic brands.
What does lycopene do?
1. It protects against many cancers-breast, uterine, lung, pancreas, bladder, prostate and intestinal cancers. And if you already have cancer, lycopene slows down the speed at which it spreads.
2. It reduces the risk of heart attacks, improves heart performance in people who already have heart disease and lowers the risk of stroke.
3. It helps deal with asthma by decreasing inflammation that blocks air intake.
4. It keeps your skin smooth, and prevents sagging, by boosting collagen levels. And lycopene in your diet protects your skin from sunburn (a little) and lowers your risk of skin cancer (noticeably).
5. It can help reverse endometriosis and fibroids.
6. It boosts the immune system's ability to fight disease.
7. Etc. From the evidence I've found, it appears that lycopene works its wonders at a very basic level of health, a level which affects everything. This is exciting stuff.
But lycopene isn't even close to being a magic bullet. Putting ketchup on processed food will improve the taste, but it won't make a health difference. Processed food swamps your body with so much bad news that lycopene doesn't stand a chance.
On the downside, too much lycopene can turn your skin a sort of yellow/red. Cutting back returns your skin to its normal glow, and you'll be good to go.
How much ketchup gets the job done? Well, a teaspoon of ketchup is said to be the equivalent of a serving of vegetables. One study said two tablespoons of organic ketchup a day keeps lycopene power up where it should be.
And lycopene's power jumps even more when joined by olive oil. Hubba, hubba!
Find (or create) a recipe involving tomato paste, puree or ketchup, perhaps add a little olive oil, and make your health better and your stomach happy.
Healthy eating sure can be delicious.
Until next time then.
Copyright 2014 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved