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Monday, July 18, 2011

nutrition 6: Carrots, Electrolytes, and Lycopene

I've been preferring to eat my pasta plain and instead buy carrot juice. This is because carrots have thirteen times the 'Greek-carotene' of tomatoes. Carrots also surpass Gatorade as a source of electrolytes other than chlorine. But prior to my decision to eschew tomatoes in favor of carrots, tomatoes were my only source of lycopene (can't afford goji berries).

I actually read a book with a three-page chapter on lycopene* but didn't remember much about the anti-oxidant precursor to beta-carotene except that it is found in ripe tomatoes (which are the best source, especially when cooked or pasteurized), pink grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon (its also found in papaya, pink guava, and rose hips). But lycopene isn't the only health-promoting nutrient in tomatoes - the plump red fruit is also a source of the anti-oxidant nutrients naringenin and chlorogenic acid.

Both tomatoes and carrots are excellent sources of the electrolyte potassium, a nutritionally essential mineral which also mitigates the harm caused by the consumption of excessive sodium. Fruits and vegetables are typically excellent sources of potassium, but cooking them reduces their potassium value unless you drink the water it was boiled in.

*I received Herbal Therapy & Supplements by Winston and Kuhn as a gift but didn't get much out of it except that unverified Chinese reports written by Burack and Lu suggest that astralagus has caused seronegative conversion in people with HIV infections. Its really more of a medical reference book than what I'm used to reading; and although information on herbs dominated its pages, I found the chapters dedicated to supplements far more interesting.

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