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Enjoy Gazpacho This Summer, But Eat It Fast


Gazpacho lovers know that letting the cold soup “sit” allows the flavor to develop more in this summer favorite. But if you want to reap the most nutritional benefits from this healthful soup, make sure to eat it soon after you prepare it.

Gazpacho’s antioxidant power fades over time

To prepare fresh gazpacho, you need to chop up a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and onions, all of which are excellent to good source of antioxidants and other nutrients. Other ingredients typically include tomato juice, olive oil, parsley, oregano, vinegar, and black pepper, while some recipes also call for celery, bread, or black olives.

According to investigators from two universities in Spain, you could be losing some of the nutritional value of gazpacho soon after you prepare it unless you eat it immediately or if you preserve it “correctly so that the vegetables maintain their antioxidant characteristics," say the authors. Naturally, the fresher the better is the mantra when it comes to vegetables, but if you need to, you can store gazpacho well sealed in the coldest part of the refrigerator for a day or two, or you can freeze it.

(Hint: If your gazpacho is chunky, to avoid soggy vegetables you may need to blend the soup in a food processor after thawing it.)

Researchers examined the levels of vitamin C (ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid) and other organic acids (e.g., citric, fumaric, glutamic, malic, and oxalic) in each of the soup’s ingredients before they were processed and then in the resulting soup. They found that “the gazpacho showed a lower ascorbic/dehydroascrobic acid ratio than the vegetables used to prepare it,” noted Elena Maria Rodriguez, one of the study’s authors.

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Vegetables lose some of their vitamin C when the food’s ascorbic acid is oxidized to dehydroascorbic acid and other inactive components. Some good news is that the antioxidant activity of tomatoes is enhanced when they are processed, and tomato juice, an ingredient used in many recipes for gazpacho, is a processed tomato food. Lycopene, a highly efficient antioxidant, is found in abundance in processed tomatoes.

Along with lycopene and vitamin C, gazpacho is a good source of vitamins A and E, calcium, copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Compared with the other ingredients in gazpacho, garlic and onions have the highest concentrations of glutamic and citric acid, while tomatoes and garlic have the highest levels of organic acids overall.

You can add a healthful boost to the long, hot summer days by enjoying a bowl of gazpacho. Since it’s such a refreshing, low-calorie meal, it may be hard not to eat it soon after it is prepared.

Simply Gazpacho
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled
1 red onion
1 cucumber, seeded and peeled
1 bell pepper, seeded
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tbs dried oregano
4 cups tomato juice
2 Tbs lemon juice
Chop all the vegetables and set aside 3 of the chopped tomatoes. Combine all ingredients except the 3 chopped tomatoes and blend in a food processor. Stir in the 3 chopped tomatoes and add Tabasco sauce and chopped cilantro to taste. Refrigerate in sealed container until chilled, then enjoy.

Dewanto V et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2002 May 8; 50(10): 3010-4
Mendez CMV et al. CyTA—Journal of Food 2011; 9(1): 71-76

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Recipe: author