The low-down on lycopene: Find loads of it in this spicy-tangy, tomato chutney!

A liking for lycopene: From marinara sauces, gazpacho soups and Asian curries to salsas and salads, tomatoes are the darlings of chefs everywhere, an integral part of most cuisines and a staple item in pantries the world over. However, a tomato is so much more than a luscious fruit. Touted for containing a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which can zap free radicals from damaging the DNA in your cells and other compounds in your body, turns out lycopene in tomatoes may also reduce your risk of stroke!

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.  Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant in tomatoes, has also been associated with reduced risk of stroke.

So what exactly is lycopene? Like beta carotene found in carrots, lycopene belongs to a family of compounds called  carotenoids, which are organic pigments found in the chloroplasts of plants, imparting fruits and vegetables with those brilliant hues such as oranges, reds and yellows that are we are all familiar with.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Cooked tomatoes have a higher lycopene content than raw! © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Loading up on lycopene lowers stroke risk: In a study involving over a 1000 men in Finland published in the journal Neurology, a few years ago, researchers found that folks with the highest amounts of lycopene in their blood were 55% less likely to have any kind of stroke. The researchers chalked this up to lycopene’s ability to reduce inflammation, and prevent blood from clotting. Clots forming in blood vessels are one of the primary precipitants of strokes, and lycopene’s ability to reduce clots from forming may be responsible for the reduced risk.

Promising research with breast cancer: Emerging evidence shows that the risk of breast cancer in post menopausal women, rises with an increase in BMI, (or body mass index, which is an evaluation of your weight with respect to your height). In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, lycopene shows some promise in reducing breast cancer risk in post menopausal women by increasing levels of a hormone called adiponectin, that helps regulate fat and blood sugar levels, thus likely modulating the BMI. Apparently according to the study, this effect was more pronounced for women who had a lower BMI.

The news gets better when it comes to lycopene. In yet another study, researchers found a 19% reduced risk of breast cancer in women with the highest carotenoids levels, compared to those with the lowest.

Superstar among carotenoids: Moreover, in the same study, while lycopene’s cousins, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, also showed statistically significant risk reduction, the undisputed superstar was lycopene, as the study showed that women with the highest levels, had a 22% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to their counterparts with the lowest levels.

Additional studies show that diets rich in tomatoes may lower the risk of other cancers as well, especially those of the prostate, lung, and stomach.

Where is lycopene lurking? Tomatoes and tomato products are by far one of the richest sources of lycopene, with a mere 1/2 cup of canned tomato puree providing a whopping 27,000 + micrograms of lycopene, and 1 tbsp of tomato paste providing a hefty 3000+ micrograms. Not to be outdone, 1 slice of watermelon does provide 12,000 + micrograms, and 1/2 a pink grapefruit, 7000 + micrograms.

Tomato chutney: Finger licking good, this spicy, tangy, and mildly sweet chutney is amazingly versatile. Use it as a luscious spread in sandwiches, crackers or crusty bread, a dip with veggies or tortilla chips, or serve as a condiment with meals. It’s so good, you just might get tempted to eat it in spoonfuls, straight out of the jar!

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Low-down on lycopene: Our featured recipe offers a delicious means of tapping into the considerable benefits associated with lycopene. What is interesting about lycopene is that it is a heat stable antioxidant that becomes more bio-available (more easily absorbed by your body) after you cook it.  This is in sharp contrast  to some of the water-soluble B vitamins that are often depleted after cooking. It is also fat soluble, hence tomatoes cooked in an oil rich medium (as featured in this recipe), have a higher lycopene content than raw tomatoes.

© Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

This versatile chutney makes a savory spread for sandwiches, crusty whole grain breads and crackers as well as a tasty dip with veggies. © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Yield: 1.5 cups of chutney

Ingredients:

  • 6 extra-large tomatoes, chopped into 3/4 ” dice (about 7 cups)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 small, dry red chili
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • pinch of asafetida (hing), found in ethnic Indian groceries, optional
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. raisins

Method:

  1. Heat peanut oil in a large, thick bottomed pan.
  2. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon and hing until mustard seeds sizzle.
  3. Stir in ginger until ginger sizzles.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.  Mustard seeds, hing, ginger and red chilies are added as tempering agents.

  4. Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric and chili powder.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  5. Stir the mixture for a couple of minutes on medium high heat. At this time the tomatoes will start oozing out copious amounts of water and the mixture in the pan will turn “soupy”

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  6. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered for an hour or slightly more, until it begins to thicken and reduce. Stir occasionally to ensure contents do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add salt and sugar, stirring well.
  8. Allow the sauce to cook some more until all water has evaporated, it turns to the consistency of a “paste”, takes on a shiny hue and oil begins to ooze from the sides of the pan.
  9. Fold in the raisins, and turn off the heat.
  10. Allow to cool completely before transferring to a glass, air tight container. Must be refrigerated and used within a week of production.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    © Copyright, March 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Antioxidants, Get cooking, Salads and starters and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The low-down on lycopene: Find loads of it in this spicy-tangy, tomato chutney!

  1. Thank you so much! Do hope you try it:))

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds good; let me know how it turns out. Have a great week ahead:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tangy……mouth watering…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leyla says:

    looks deli 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, hope you try it:))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Malaika says:

    Thank you for the well researched information Sangeeta! The recipe looks delicious and it’s great to hear about all the wonderful health benefits of tomatoes. I knew they were good for you but after reading this I am even more convinced about the benefits so thanks again! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks very nice.. I still have a few jars left of my Green Tomato chutney I made last autumn with the tomatoes that failed to ripen.. 🙂 And once you get into chutney and jam making you get hooked 🙂 Loved recipe share Sangeeta.. thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yup… Thanks for sharing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Malaika,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful, positive feedback. So glad you found the info helpful. Makes my job all the more rewarding. Many thanks for stopping by:))

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for stopping by, Sue. Always nice to hear from you:). Yes, chutney and jam making can get you hooked for sure, you just can’t beat the taste of your own fresh and wholesome, home made condiments:)!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My pleasure, indeed:))!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Malaika says:

    You’re most welcome Sangeeta! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So very true… which reminds me.. to take a new jar of chutney from its cupboard 😉

    Like

  14. Sheryl says:

    Another wonderful post – As always, I enjoy the combination of nutritional information and a recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you so much, Sheryl for your kind and thoughtful comments as always. So happy to hear that you like this format, and find it helpful:))

    Like

  16. dgkaye says:

    This looks yummy. Thanks as always Sangeeta for sharing your wisdom and great recipes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Deb, thank you for your kind feedback as always! Hope all’s well – and you try out the recipe, albeit it might be a little spicy!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. dgkaye says:

    I love the spice. 🙂 Not so much good for my husband these days. Happy Easter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Never knew the intrinsic power of tomato, always took the vegetable for granted and also the antioxidant called lycopene, very informative…you have spelled out the benefits so nicely with such illustration and it is wonderful piece of information for one and all. Yes, the tomato chutney looks so tempting and as always your recipe has all the details and the instruction so clearly laid out…
    Thanks once again for sharing one more insightful post.
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Nihar, thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive feedback. Always motivating to hear from you. Yes, our fruits and vegetables are hidden, often overlooked treasures that we should tap into, to reap the enormous benefits they offer. Really appreciate your insightful comments as always:))!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It is always a pleasure reading your posts and whenever I have to check something on health and nutrition and food, I land in your home page to get to know so much insights and facts..and you do so using simple words and easy for any common person to understand medical terms used for nutrition and health…
    I remember your tips on how color of vegetables depicts the nutrition aspects of vegetables…I always refer the saturated and unsaturated fats thoughts of yours.
    My cherish reading your posts…
    Have a lovely Sunday.
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That is a true compliment coming from a stalwart like you. Some nutritional concepts are somewhat complicated, so if I can distill it down to simpler facts, that the lay person can relate to, I feel like my blog has served its purpose. Your thorough feedback makes my job all the more rewarding:) Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I keep referring your site to friends who ask about health and nutrition related aspects, today most of the time the talk is on the food and particularly so on the healthy food, it is indeed a food for thought, as so much of clutter in choosing the recipe and composition in ready made foods…it needs understanding of the basics, the technical terms and how to apply those thoughts into choosing and eating right set of food…
    Always my pleasure to share my little analysis when I read such depth of knowledge you bring onto the table.
    Thanks so much.
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  24. So grateful to you for sharing my site. As I always say, knowledge is of little value, unless shared with others. You just made my job that much easier by helping me serve my purpose! God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. My pleasure and have a lovely Sunday…
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  26. RMW says:

    My mother made chutney with all different kinds of ingredients from the garden when we lived in England so I grew up appreciating it. This one looks really good.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you so much! I hope you try it-very versatile as well. Have a great weekend:)!

    Like

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