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Lycopene is a symmetrical tetraterpene, i.e. assembled from eight isoprene units. It is a member of the carotenoid household of compounds, and due to the fact that it consists completely of carbon and hydrogen, is likewise categorized as a carotene. Isolation treatments for lycopene were first reported in 1910, and the structure of the particle was determined by 1931. In its natural, all-trans type, the molecule is long and directly, constrained by its system of 11 conjugated double bonds. Each extension in this conjugated system reduces the energy required for electrons to shift to higher energy states, allowing the particle to take in noticeable light of gradually longer wavelengths. Lycopene soaks up all but the longest wavelengths of visible light, so it appears red.

Plants and photosynthetic bacteria naturally produce all-trans lycopene. When exposed to light or heat, lycopene can undergo isomerization to any of a number of cis-isomers, which have a bent instead of linear shape. Different isomers were revealed to have various stabilities due to their molecular energy (greatest stability: 5-cis ≥ all-trans ≥ 9-cis ≥ 13-cis > > 15-cis > 7-cis > > 11-cis: lowest). In human blood, various cis-isomers make up more than 60% of the total lycopene concentration, but the biological impacts of specific isomers have actually not been investigated.

Lycopene is an essential intermediate in the biosynthesis of numerous carotenoids.

Carotenoids like lycopene are found in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes in plants, photosynthetic bacteria, fungis, and algae. They are responsible for the brilliant orange– red colors of fruits and vegetables, carry out various functions in photosynthesis, and protect photosynthetic organisms from extreme light damage. Lycopene is an essential intermediate in the biosynthesis of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and xanthophylls.

Dispersed lycopene molecules can be encapsulated into carbon nanotubes enhancing their optical properties. Efficient energy transfer happens in between the encapsulated color and nanotube– light is taken in by the color and without considerable loss is transferred to the nanotube. Encapsulation increases chemical and thermal stability of lycopene molecules; it likewise enables their seclusion and specific characterization.


The unconditioned biosynthesis of lycopene in eukaryotic plants and in prokaryotic cyanobacteria is similar, as are the enzymes included. [4] Synthesis starts with mevalonic acid, which is converted into dimethylallyl pyrophosphate. This is then condensed with 3 molecules of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (an isomer of dimethylallyl pyrophosphate), to offer the 20-carbon geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. 2 particles of this item are then condensed in a tail-to-tail setup to offer the 40-carbon phytoene, the very first committed step in carotenoid biosynthesis. Through a number of desaturation steps, phytoene is converted into lycopene. The two terminal isoprene groups of lycopene can be cyclized to produce beta-carotene, which can then be transformed into a wide array of xanthophylls. [2]


Strong Antioxidant Properties

Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family.

Anti-oxidants safeguard your body from damage caused by compounds known as complimentary radicals.

When complimentary radical levels outnumber antioxidant levels, they can create oxidative stress in your body. This stress is connected to particular persistent diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Research study shows that lycopene’s antioxidant properties can help keep totally free extreme levels in balance, safeguarding your body versus a few of these conditions.

In addition, test-tube and animal studies reveal that lycopene might safeguard your body versus damage caused by pesticides, herbicides, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and particular types of fungis.


Lycopene is a strong antioxidant that can safeguard your body against oxidative stress and use some protection from specific ecological toxic substances and persistent diseases.

May Protect Against Certain Kinds Of Cancer

Lycopene’s strong antioxidant action might avoid or decrease the development of some kinds of cancer.

For example, test-tube research studies show that the nutrient may slow down the development of breast and prostate cancers by restricting tumor development.

Animal studies additional report that it might prevent the development of cancer cells in the kidneys.

In people, observational research studies connect high consumptions of carotenoids, consisting of lycopene, to a 32– 50% lower risk of lung and prostate cancers.

A 23-year study in more than 46,000 guys looked at the link between lycopene and prostate cancer in more detail.

Men who consumed at least two portions of lycopene-rich tomato sauce per week were 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who consumed less than one serving of tomato sauce each month.

Nevertheless, a recent evaluation of 26 research studies found more moderate outcomes. Scientist connected high lycopene consumption to a 9% lower probability of developing prostate cancer. Daily intakes of 9– 21 mg per day appeared most advantageous.


Diet plans abundant in the antioxidant lycopene may help prevent the advancement of prostate cancer. It may also protect against cancers of the lungs, breasts and kidneys, but more human-based research study is required to confirm this.

May Promote Heart Health

Lycopene might also help lower your threat of developing or prematurely passing away from heart problem.

That remains in part because it may decrease heart problem threat aspects. More specifically, it might lower free-radical damage, overall and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

High blood levels of lycopene might also include years to the lives of people with metabolic syndrome– a mix of health conditions that can cause heart disease.

Over a 10-year period, scientists noted that individuals with metabolic illness who had the highest blood lycopene levels had up to a 39% lower risk of dying too soon.

In another 10-year study, diets abundant in this nutrient were linked to a 17– 26% lower threat of cardiovascular disease. A current review even more associates high blood levels of lycopene with a 31% lower risk of stroke.

Lycopene’s protective effects appear particularly beneficial to those with low blood antioxidant levels or high levels of oxidative tension. This consists of older grownups and individuals who smoke or have diabetes or heart disease.


Lycopene’s strong antioxidant properties might assist improve cholesterol levels and reduce your probability of developing or passing away too soon from cardiovascular disease.

May Protect Against Sunburn

Lycopene also appears to provide some defense against the destructive impacts of the sun.

In one little 12-week study, participants were exposed to UV rays prior to and after consuming either 16 mg of lycopene from tomato paste or a placebo. Participants in the tomato paste group had less extreme skin responses to the UV direct exposure.

In another 12-week research study, daily intake of 8– 16 mg of lycopene, either from food or supplements, helped in reducing the intensity of skin inflammation following direct exposure to UV rays by 40– 50%.

In this study, supplements offering a mix of lycopene and other carotenoids were more efficient against UV damage than those supplying lycopene alone.

That stated, lycopene’s protection against UV damage is restricted and not considered an excellent replacement for using sunscreen.


Lycopene might help increase your skin’s defense versus sunburns and damage triggered by UV rays. However, it is no replacement for sun block.

Other Potential Benefits

Lycopene might likewise offer a series of other health advantages– the best-researched ones consist of:.

May assist your vision: Lycopene might avoid or delay the development of cataracts and reduce your threat of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.

Might lower pain: Lycopene might help reduce neuropathic discomfort, a type of discomfort triggered by nerve and tissue damage.

May safeguard your brain: Lycopene’s antioxidant properties may help avoid seizures and memory loss experienced in age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Might add to stronger bones: Lycopene’s antioxidant action might slow down the death of bone cells, strengthen bone architecture and assistance keep bones healthy and strong.

Up until now, the majority of these benefits have actually only been observed in test-tube and animal research study. More research studies in people are required prior to strong conclusions can be made.


Lycopene may help reduce feelings of discomfort and have advantageous results on your eyes, brain and bones. More studies, specifically in humans, are required to confirm these results. [3]

Which 5 foods are abundant in lycopene?

Carrots, tomatoes, and pumpkins are great sources of lycopene.

The best sources of lycopene are red-fleshed foods. These lycopene-rich foods are likewise jammed loaded with other nutrients that offer a variety of other health advantages.

Tomato. This is the most popular source of lycopene! Cooked tomatoes tend to supply the greatest amounts of bioavailable lycopene. Tomato items like sauces and ketchup might supply more in weight, but the majority of people don’t consume a big quantity on their dishes relative to consuming a whole tomato. Another great method to acquire the lycopene gain from tomatoes is with a tasty tomato soup. Substitute that for clam chowder any day!

Pumpkin. Not only is the meat or pulp of the pumpkin abundant in lycopene, however the seeds feature their own advantages also! Their seeds consist of tryptophan, important fatty acids, and antioxidant phytonutrients that help support bladder and prostate health.

Watermelon. This sweet fruit is a terrific source of lycopene and an even much better healthy low-calorie snack.

Carrots. Carrots are some of the most carotenoid-rich foods. Red carrots are the highest in lycopene and also include even greater quantities of beta-carotene along with some alpha-carotene (hence their eponymous name).

Papaya. What used to be a considered an uncommon and exotic fruit is now a popular supermarket find. Papaya is packed filled with free-radical fighting carotenoids beyond lycopene, such as zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene. They likewise include papain, an enzyme that promotes digestion. Watch out for papayas next you go grocery shopping!

Is lycopene found in tomatoes?

That’s correct! In fact, tomatoes are the most typically consumed food that’s lycopene-rich.

What fruit has the most lycopene?

Prepared tomatoes, obviously!

Does cooking destroy lycopene?

Cooking at high temperatures may trigger a loss of specific useful nutrients from your food, including vitamins and antioxidants. However, particular heating approaches have been revealed to improve the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes. Although this might be mystical organic chemistry, lycopene in nature remains in its all-trans chemical form, and this is not readily bioavailable. Heating tomatoes has actually been shown to produce the more of the bioavailable cis-lycopene.

In fact, in a meta-analysis released in Nature that consisted of several types of studies such as randomized placebo-controlled trials and case-control studies, consumption of tomato foods, cooked tomatoes, and sauces were connected with a healthy prostate, whereas consumption of raw tomatoes was not connected with a statistically substantial improvement.

Note: Research is required to assess how various cooking methods may affect lycopene bioavailability in other foods.

How cooking tomatoes changes lycopene bioavailability

Sundried tomatoes are a great way to get lycopene.

When it concerns how your body utilizes the lycopene that remains in your food, how it’s prepared really matters. Some intriguing facts:.

Slow & & low for the win. Sundried tomatoes, which are slow cooked at a low temperature, have better lycopene bioavailability than fresh or canned tomatoes.

Add some EVOO. Cooking oils make a difference, too. One study revealed that lycopene level in human plasma is increased further upon eating tomatoes prepared with olive oil compared to being prepared without this healthy fat.

Good news and bad news about tomato sauce. Tomato paste and sauce are used an industrial technique called thermal processing. These tomato items have more bioavailable lycopene than a fresh tomato, however the thermal processing deteriorates specific types of vitamins A, C, and E. One research study revealed that despite this, the thermal processing leads to higher overall antioxidant activity compared to fresh tomatoes.

Recommendation: Consuming foods cooked vs. raw

If you’re shocked that cooked tomatoes are a much better source of lycopene than this fruit in the raw, you’re not alone! Prepared tomatoes might be an exception to conventional wisdom which suggests that consuming specific foods raw is healthier than cooking these foods because cooking may produce certain undesirable chain reaction.

Using heat to food develops AGEs (sophisticated glycation end-products). Low-heat cooking approaches such as poaching and steaming are safe because they lead to minimal AGE development, whereas high heat cooking such as barbecuing and frying causes possibly impactful levels of AGE’s.

As constantly, small amounts is key! Some heating methods produce bioavailable lycopene in tomatoes, however there’s no need to limit yourself to only eating prepared tomatoes or tomato items. Attempt some ready-to-serve fresh tomatoes every now and then. [4]

Few more sources that you may not know

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are already understood for being outstanding sources of vitamin A, fiber, and adding to radiant skin, however they’re likewise fantastic sources of lycopene. They can work as a fantastic post-workout snack, a side meal (sweet potato french fries all the time, please), or added to a coconut curry dish.

Pink grapefruit

Half of a grapefruit contains around two milligrams of lycopene and is likewise thought about an excellent source of vitamin C. We enjoy how versatile pink grapefruits are; they can be added to both sweet and savory meals or utilized in drinks like the rejuvenating mocktail dish listed below. They can likewise be used to make frozen desserts, salads, or on their own for an early morning treat.

Blood oranges

Unlike basic oranges, blood oranges have a floral or tart taste and a darker color due to its lycopene content. This is likewise an example of a food that can work well in a range of dishes, from a citrus salad or salmon marinate to healthy smoothies and homemade popsicles.


Guava is a tasty tropical fruit with a yellow or light green skin and crimson or pink fresh. According to Iu, this powerful fruit contains over 5 milligrams of lycopene per 100 grams, and contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3s. You can choose to eat guava on its own or added into a good glaze for meats.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers are incredibly versatile and can be contributed to almost any meal, from tofu scrambles and avocado toast to sandwiches, covers, and grain bowls. In addition to containing lycopene, they’re also considered a hydrating treat thinking about bell peppers are 92 percent water. [5]

Rose Hips

Here’s a less foreseeable alternative for lycopene. Rose hips are a kind of accessory fruit from roses. The rose hips establish after roses have been pollinated and can be found just under the petals.

Rose hips are in some cases used to make maintains and natural tea. There are some more uncommon uses too, such as rose hip bread, soup, and wine. You can even consume the fruit raw, as long as you avoid all the hairs inside the rose hip.

The lycopene content is one factor to consume increased hips, as they are remarkably outstanding. You even get more lycopene in a cup of increased hips than you carry out in a cup of cooked tomatoes.

Regular Grapefruit

While pink grapefruit is higher in lycopene, other kinds of grapefruit still use some of the substance, which gives you more versatility when selecting your fruit.

The issues with grapefruit and medication remain the same no matter the kind of grapefruit that you select. So, once again, speak with your physician if you have any issues.


Asparagus may appear like the odd one out on this list, as the veggie is green. The amount of lycopene in a serving isn’t remarkable either. You only navigate 50 μg in a cup of prepared asparagus. You would require to eat an extreme quantity of asparagus to get anywhere close to the levels in the fruits we’ve featured– and that isn’t a recommended practice.

Asparagus can still be considered lycopene rich due to the ratio of lycopene to calories. Since asparagus is low in calories, you end up with around 270 μg of lycopene per 200 calories.

This suggests that you can quickly utilize asparagus to add a little lycopene to your diet. Doing so could be best if you are closely viewing your calorie consumption.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage shows a similar pattern to asparagus. It is fairly low in lycopene, however is low in calories too. These two functions balance each other out nicely, leaving you with a vegetable that’s a great addition to any diet.

Besides, red cabbage does use lots of other advantageous compounds, consisting of vitamin C and other anti-oxidants.


Persimmons are another somewhat uncommon type of fruit. They’re popular enough, but might not have been something that you grew up consuming. Fuyu persimmons stay the most popular kind of persimmon.

These have actually orange-red colored fresh and tend to be non-astringent. The terms suggests that the persimmons are free from tannins, however that concept isn’t strictly precise. Instead, non-astringent persimmons contain less tannins than the astringent ranges and lose their tannins faster.

Because of this, Fuyu persimmons can be eaten when they’re firm and are still edible even once they become soft. Astringent persimmons, on the other hand, need to be quite soft when they are consumed.

The lycopene content in an entire Fuyu persimmon is only around 260 μg, so the fruit isn’t as lycopene rich as some of the other entries on this list. Still, you are getting some lycopene and there isn’t a recommended day-to-day consumption for the substance anyway.

So, if you enjoy the taste of persimmons or just want to attempt something various, why not provide a shot?

Numerous Soups

The lycopene material of tomatoes suggests that soups frequently end up being rich in lycopene too. Minestrone is one example, as the soup tends to use a tomato-based broth. Even canned minestrone from the supermarket will consist of a decent amount of lycopene– although soup you make yourself will constantly be much better.

And, obviously, any type of tomato soup will offer you lots of lycopene. Tomato soup even ends up being among your best choices because of the amount of tomato you’re utilizing for the serving size.

Pasta With Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce heavily depends on tomatoes too, so any pasta meal with this type of sauce is naturally high in lycopene. This approach works well, as many different dishes depend on a marinara base and then make their own variations.

You don’t require to stick with pasta either. You might easily substitute for a low carbohydrate pasta option, like zoodles or spaghetti squash.


Depending upon how you make them, hamburgers can provide you with lycopene too. After all, you’re frequently using chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce as active ingredients, which are both high in lycopene. You might try including some sliced red peppers in too. [6]

How much lycopene is excessive?

Lycopene isn’t harmful and there aren’t any hazardous impacts associated with its consumption. Presently, there’s no tolerable upper intake level (UL) for lycopene, but proof reveals that intakes of as much as 75 mg/day are safeSource: Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.

This being stated, if you’re consuming a lot of lycopene-rich foods, you may discover your skin turning an orange-red tint. This condition is called lycopenemia and although it’s harmless, it’s probably not the appearance you desire. Lycopenemia can be triggered by lycopene or other carotenoids in your diet plan– e.g. alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein or zeaxanthin. It’s hard to state just how much lycopene will cause lycopenemia, but the few documented cases cite intakes such as 2 litres of tomato juice daily for 2 years or eating one and a half papayas daily for 6 months. So, unless your diet is severe and/or lacks variety, you should not fret excessive about reddening. [7]

Health Threats

Lycopene is considered safe and there are no established ceilings suggested for its consumption.

Nevertheless, some cases of extremely high lycopene consumption have actually resulted in slight skin discoloration. One case study reported that a female who drank about 2 liters of tomato juice daily over numerous years established an orange tint to her skin. This problem is only short-term, however. After lowering her lycopene consumption, the woman’s skin discoloration faded in a few weeks.

While research is ongoing, there are not currently any recognized unfavorable negative effects related to taking lycopene. Nevertheless, high levels of lycopene might not be suitable for:.

  • People with low blood pressure
  • Individuals with stomach ulcers
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding ladies
  • People taking medication for heart disease, cancer, or skin conditions
  • Individuals using hormonal agent therapy
  • Talk with your physician prior to changing your diet plan to ensure lycopene is safe for you and won’t communicate with medications you take. [8]


Be aware that lycopene competes with other carotenoids for absorption into the gut.

For that reason, taking a lycopene supplement with lutein, beta-carotene, or another carotenoid supplement, might result in reduced absorption. Other supplements, such as calcium, can also reduce absorption.

Antiplatelets: Lycopene might inhibit blood clotting, which might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgical treatment. Usage caution when using lycopene with other medications, consisting of natural preparations and plant-based medicines.

Anorectic drugs: In theory, drugs that reduce food consumption (anorectic drugs) in general may reduce lycopene consumption.

Lipase inhibitors: Lipase inhibitors, which reduce fat absorption, may also impact your body’s capability to absorb lycopene.

How to Shop Lycopene

Lycopene needs to be kept at room temperature level and away from direct sunlight. A lot of containers obstruct ultraviolet (UV) light to protect the supplement from damage.

Comparable Supplements

Supplements similar to lycopene include:.

Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and anti-oxidants like lycopene.24 However, they are discovered in different foods. For instance, beta-carotene is widely known for giving carrots their orange color and is also discovered in sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and lots of other foods. Lutein and zeaxanthin are mainly discovered in dark green vegetables.

Beta-carotene is in fact converted into another anti-oxidant, vitamin A, in the body.25 Vitamin A can usually be discovered in the very same foods as beta-carotene. Vitamins E and C are also typical antioxidants in our diet plan. Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is discovered in a variety of foods, including almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, and tomatoes. Vitamin C is well-known for its existence in citrus fruits but is also in tomatoes and numerous other foods. [9]

The bottom line

  • Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that comes from the carotenoid group. It’s discovered in high amounts in red and pink fruits, in addition to dietary supplements.
  • Lycopene has revealed blood pressure-lowering results and diets abundant in lycopene have actually been related to lower risk of some kinds of cancer. It may likewise have advantages for skin protection.
  • There is no official suggested day-to-day consumption for lycopene. Average intake in the United States is approximated to be about 2 milligrams of lycopene each day, which has to do with the amount discovered in a 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes.
  • Lycopene in the amounts discovered in plant sources is thought to be safe for everyone. Particular groups, like people on blood-thinning or blood pressure medications and pregnant women, need to prevent using lycopene from dietary supplements. [10]


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