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Lycopene is an in proportion tetraterpene, i.e. assembled from 8 isoprene units. It is a member of the carotenoid household of substances, and because it consists completely of carbon and hydrogen, is likewise categorized as a carotene. Isolation procedures for lycopene were first reported in 1910, and the structure of the molecule 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 decreases the energy needed for electrons to shift to greater energy states, permitting the molecule to soak up visible light of progressively longer wavelengths. Lycopene takes in all but the longest wavelengths of noticeable light, so it appears red.

Plants and photosynthetic germs naturally produce all-trans lycopene. When exposed to light or heat, lycopene can go through isomerization to any of a variety of cis-isomers, which have a bent instead of direct shape. Various isomers were revealed to have various stabilities due to their molecular energy (highest stability: 5-cis ≥ all-trans ≥ 9-cis ≥ 13-cis > > 15-cis > 7-cis > > 11-cis: lowest). In human blood, various cis-isomers constitute more than 60% of the overall lycopene concentration, however the biological effects of specific isomers have actually not been investigated.

Lycopene is a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of lots of carotenoids.

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

Dispersed lycopene particles can be encapsulated into carbon nanotubes enhancing their optical residential or commercial properties. Effective energy transfer happens in between the encapsulated color and nanotube– light is soaked up by the dye and without considerable loss is transferred to the nanotube. Encapsulation increases chemical and thermal stability of lycopene molecules; it also permits their isolation and private characterization.


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


Strong Antioxidant Properties

Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family.

Anti-oxidants protect your body from damage triggered by compounds referred to as free radicals.

When free radical levels outnumber antioxidant levels, they can create oxidative stress in your body. This tension is linked to specific chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.

Research shows that lycopene’s antioxidant residential or commercial properties can assist keep totally free radical levels in balance, safeguarding your body versus a few of these conditions.

In addition, test-tube and animal studies show that lycopene may protect your body versus damage brought on by pesticides, herbicides, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and specific kinds of fungis.


Lycopene is a strong anti-oxidant that can secure your body versus oxidative stress and provide some defense from specific environmental toxins and chronic diseases.

May Protect Versus Certain Types of Cancer

Lycopene’s strong antioxidant action may prevent or slow down the progression of some kinds of cancer.

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

Animal research studies further report that it might avoid the development of cancer cells in the kidneys.

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

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

Men who consumed a minimum of 2 portions of lycopene-rich tomato sauce per week were 30% less most likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving of tomato sauce monthly.

However, a current evaluation of 26 studies discovered more moderate outcomes. Researchers linked high lycopene intakes to a 9% lower likelihood of establishing prostate cancer. Daily consumption of 9– 21 mg each day appeared most helpful.


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

May Promote Heart Health

Lycopene may also assist decrease your threat of establishing or too soon dying from cardiovascular disease.

That’s in part since it might decrease heart problem danger elements. More specifically, it might reduce free-radical damage, overall and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “excellent” HDL cholesterol.

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

Over a 10-year duration, researchers noted that individuals with metabolic illness who had the greatest blood lycopene levels had up to a 39% lower danger of passing away prematurely.

In another 10-year study, diet plans rich in this nutrient were linked to a 17– 26% lower danger of cardiovascular disease. A recent evaluation further 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 adults and individuals who smoke or have diabetes or heart problem.


Lycopene’s strong antioxidant homes may help improve cholesterol levels and decrease your likelihood of developing or dying prematurely from heart disease.

May Protect Against Sunburn

Lycopene likewise appears to offer some protection against the damaging results of the sun.

In one small 12-week study, individuals were exposed to UV rays prior to and after taking in either 16 mg of lycopene from tomato paste or a placebo. Participants in the tomato paste group had less serious skin reactions to the UV exposure.

In another 12-week research study, day-to-day consumption of 8– 16 mg of lycopene, either from food or supplements, helped reduce the strength of skin inflammation following exposure to UV rays by 40– 50%.

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

That said, lycopene’s protection versus UV damage is minimal and ruled out an excellent replacement for using sun block.


Lycopene may help increase your skin’s defense against sunburns and damage brought on by UV rays. Nevertheless, it is no replacement for sun block.

Other Possible Benefits

Lycopene might also provide a series of other health benefits– the best-researched ones include:.

Might assist your vision: Lycopene may avoid or postpone the development of cataracts and decrease your danger of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older grownups.

Might reduce discomfort: Lycopene may help reduce neuropathic pain, a type of discomfort caused by nerve and tissue damage.

Might secure your brain: Lycopene’s antioxidant homes might help prevent seizures and memory loss experienced in age-related illness, such as Alzheimer’s.

Might contribute to more powerful bones: Lycopene’s antioxidant action may decrease the death of bone cells, enhance bone architecture and help keep bones healthy and strong.

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


Lycopene may help reduce feelings of pain and have useful effects on your eyes, brain and bones. More research studies, especially 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 provide a variety of other health advantages.

Tomato. This is the most popular source of lycopene! Prepared tomatoes tend to provide the greatest quantities of bioavailable lycopene. Tomato products like sauces and ketchup may provide more in weight, but the majority of people do not consume a large quantity on their dishes relative to eating a whole tomato. Another excellent method to obtain 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 rich in lycopene, however the seeds include their own advantages too! Their seeds include tryptophan, essential fatty acids, and antioxidant phytonutrients that help support bladder and prostate health.

Watermelon. This sweet fruit is an excellent source of lycopene and an even better healthy low-calorie treat.

Carrots. Carrots are a few of the most carotenoid-rich foods. Red carrots are the highest in lycopene and likewise contain even greater amounts of beta-carotene together with some alpha-carotene (thus their eponymous name).

Papaya. What used to be a thought about an uncommon and unique fruit is now a popular grocery store discover. Papaya is packed full of free-radical battling carotenoids beyond lycopene, such as zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene. They likewise contain papain, an enzyme that promotes digestion. Watch out for papayas next you go grocery shopping!

Is lycopene found in tomatoes?

That’s appropriate! In fact, tomatoes are the most commonly eaten food that’s lycopene-rich.

What fruit has the most lycopene?

Prepared tomatoes, obviously!

Does cooking destroy lycopene?

Cooking at high temperatures may cause a loss of specific useful nutrients from your food, including vitamins and anti-oxidants. Nevertheless, particular heating methods have been shown to enhance the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes. Although this might be mystical natural chemistry, lycopene in nature remains in its all-trans chemical kind, and this is not readily bioavailable. Heating tomatoes has been revealed to produce the more of the bioavailable cis-lycopene.

In fact, in a meta-analysis published in Nature that consisted of multiple types of studies such as randomized placebo-controlled trials and case-control studies, usage of tomato foods, cooked tomatoes, and sauces were related to a healthy prostate, whereas consumption of raw tomatoes was not related to a statistically substantial enhancement.

Note: Research is needed to evaluate how different cooking techniques might impact lycopene bioavailability in other foods.

How cooking tomatoes modifications lycopene bioavailability

Sundried tomatoes are a fantastic method 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 sluggish prepared at a low temperature, have better lycopene bioavailability than fresh or canned tomatoes.

Add some EVOO. Cooking oils make a distinction, too. One study showed that lycopene level in human plasma is increased even more upon consuming tomatoes prepared with olive oil compared to being prepared without this healthy fat.

Excellent news and bad news about tomato sauce. Tomato paste and sauce are made using an industrial approach called thermal processing. These tomato products have more bioavailable lycopene than a fresh tomato, but the thermal processing breaks down specific kinds of vitamins A, C, and E. One study showed that in spite of this, the thermal processing leads to higher total antioxidant activity compared to fresh tomatoes.

Recommendation: Eating foods cooked vs. raw

If you’re shocked that prepared tomatoes are a better source of lycopene than this fruit in the raw, you’re not alone! Cooked tomatoes might be an exception to conventional wisdom which recommends that eating specific foods raw is healthier than cooking these foods due to the fact that cooking may create specific undesirable chain reaction.

Applying heat to food produces AGEs (sophisticated glycation end-products). Low-heat cooking techniques such as poaching and steaming are safe since they result in very little AGE development, whereas high heat cooking such as grilling and frying causes potentially impactful levels of AGE’s.

As constantly, small amounts is essential! Some heating methods produce bioavailable lycopene in tomatoes, but there’s no requirement to limit yourself to only consuming prepared tomatoes or tomato products. Attempt some ready-to-serve fresh tomatoes every so often. [4]

Few more sources that you may not know

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are already known for being excellent sources of vitamin A, fiber, and contributing to glowing skin, however they’re likewise excellent sources of lycopene. They can act as an excellent post-workout treat, a side meal (sweet potato fries all the time, please), or contributed to a coconut curry meal.

Pink grapefruit

Half of a grapefruit includes around 2 milligrams of lycopene and is also thought about a great source of vitamin C. We love how versatile pink grapefruits are; they can be contributed to both sweet and tasty dishes or used in beverages like the revitalizing mocktail recipe listed below. They can likewise be used to make frozen desserts, salads, or by themselves for an early morning snack.

Blood oranges

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


Guava is a scrumptious tropical fruit with a yellow or light green skin and deep red or pink fresh. According to Iu, this effective fruit contains over five milligrams of lycopene per 100 grams, and consists of vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3s. You can choose to eat guava by itself or included into a good glaze for meats.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers are super flexible 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 likewise thought about a hydrating snack thinking about bell peppers are 92 percent water. [5]

Rose Hips

Here’s a less predictable option for lycopene. Rose hips are a kind of accessory fruit from roses. The rose hips establish after roses have actually been pollinated and can be discovered simply under the petals.

Rose hips are in some cases utilized to make maintains and herbal tea. There are some more uncommon usages too, such as rose hip bread, soup, and white wine. You can even eat the fruit raw, as long as you prevent all the hairs inside the rose hip.

The lycopene material is one factor to consume increased hips, as they are surprisingly remarkable. You even get more lycopene in a cup of increased hips than you do in a cup of cooked tomatoes.

Routine Grapefruit

While pink grapefruit is higher in lycopene, other kinds of grapefruit still provide a few of the compound, which offers you more versatility when selecting your fruit.

The issues with grapefruit and medication remain the very same despite the kind of grapefruit that you pick. So, once again, speak with your physician if you have any issues.


Asparagus might look like the odd one out on this list, as the veggie is green. The amount of lycopene in a serving isn’t excellent either. You only navigate 50 μg in a cup of cooked asparagus. You would require to eat an excessive amount of asparagus to get anywhere near to the levels in the fruits we’ve included– which isn’t a suggested practice.

Asparagus can still be thought about lycopene abundant due to the ratio of lycopene to calories. Because asparagus is low in calories, you end up with around 270 μg of lycopene per 200 calories.

This indicates that you can easily utilize asparagus to add a little lycopene to your diet plan. Doing so could be ideal if you are carefully seeing your calorie consumption.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage shows a comparable pattern to asparagus. It is reasonably low in lycopene, however is low in calories too. These 2 features balance each other out well, leaving you with a vegetable that’s a good addition to any diet plan.

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


Persimmons are another somewhat unusual type of fruit. They’re popular enough, however might not have been something that you matured consuming. Fuyu persimmons remain the most popular kind of persimmon.

These have orange-red colored fresh and tend to be non-astringent. The terms suggests that the persimmons are devoid of tannins, but that idea isn’t strictly precise. Instead, non-astringent persimmons include less tannins than the astringent varieties and lose their tannins much 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 material in a whole Fuyu persimmon is only around 260 μg, so the fruit isn’t as lycopene rich as a few of the other entries on this list. Still, you are getting some lycopene and there isn’t a recommended daily consumption for the substance anyhow.

So, if you delight in the flavor of persimmons or simply want to try something various, why not provide a shot?

Numerous Soups

The lycopene content of tomatoes implies that soups typically end up being rich in lycopene too. Minestrone is one example, as the soup tends to utilize a tomato-based broth. Even canned minestrone from the grocery store will contain a decent amount of lycopene– although soup you make yourself will constantly be much better.

And, obviously, any kind of tomato soup will offer you a lot of lycopene. Tomato soup even winds up being one of your finest options because of the amount of tomato you’re using for the serving size.

Pasta With Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce heavily relies on tomatoes too, so any pasta meal with this type of sauce is naturally high in lycopene. This method works well, as numerous various dishes count on a marinara base and then make their own variations.

You do not require to stick with pasta either. You might quickly replacement for a low carbohydrate pasta alternative, like zoodles or spaghetti squash.


Depending upon how you make them, hamburgers can supply you with lycopene too. After all, you’re typically utilizing sliced tomatoes and tomato sauce as ingredients, which are both high in lycopene. You could try adding some sliced red peppers in too. [6]

Just how much lycopene is too much?

Lycopene isn’t harmful and there aren’t any damaging impacts connected with its intake. Presently, there’s no bearable upper intake level (UL) for lycopene, however proof reveals that consumption of up to 75 mg/day are safeSource: Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.

This being stated, if you’re consuming a lot of lycopene-rich foods, you might see your skin turning an orange-red tint. This condition is known as lycopenemia and although it’s safe, it’s most likely not the appearance you desire. Lycopenemia can be caused 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, however the few recorded cases mention intakes such as 2 litres of tomato juice daily for two years or consuming one and a half papayas daily for 6 months. So, unless your diet plan is extreme and/or lacks diversity, you should not worry excessive about reddening. [7]

Health Dangers

Lycopene is thought about safe and there are no recognized ceilings suggested for its consumption.

Nevertheless, some cases of extremely high lycopene intake have resulted in minor skin discoloration. One case study reported that a female who drank about 2 liters of tomato juice daily over a number of years developed an orange tint to her skin. This issue is only temporary, however. After decreasing her lycopene consumption, the female’s skin discoloration faded in a few weeks.

While research study is ongoing, there are not presently any known negative effects related to taking lycopene. Nevertheless, high levels of lycopene might not appropriate for:.

  • People with low high blood pressure
  • People with stomach ulcers
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding ladies
  • People taking medication for heart disease, cancer, or skin conditions
  • Individuals using hormone therapy
  • Speak with your medical professional before altering your diet to make sure 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.

Therefore, taking a lycopene supplement with lutein, beta-carotene, or another carotenoid supplement, may result in decreased absorption. Other supplements, such as calcium, can likewise reduce absorption.

Antiplatelets: Lycopene may prevent blood clotting, which could increase the threat of bleeding throughout and after surgical treatment. Usage care when using lycopene with other medicines, consisting of herbal preparations and plant-based medications.

Anorectic drugs: Theoretically, drugs that decrease food intake (anorectic drugs) in general might decrease lycopene consumption.

Lipase inhibitors: Lipase inhibitors, which reduce fat absorption, might likewise affect your body’s ability to soak up lycopene.

How to Store Lycopene

Lycopene ought to be stored at room temperature level and away from direct sunshine. A lot of containers obstruct ultraviolet (UV) light to secure 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 various foods. For example, beta-carotene is well-known for giving carrots their orange color and is also found in sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and many other foods. Lutein and zeaxanthin are primarily discovered in dark green vegetables.

Beta-carotene is in fact converted into another anti-oxidant, vitamin A, in the body.25 Vitamin A can generally be found in the exact same foods as beta-carotene. Vitamins E and C are also typical anti-oxidants in our diet. Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is discovered in a variety of foods, consisting of almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, and tomatoes. Vitamin C is popular for its presence in citrus fruits but is likewise in tomatoes and many other foods. [9]

The bottom line

  • Lycopene is an antioxidant that belongs to the carotenoid group. It’s found in high quantities in red and pink fruits, as well as dietary supplements.
  • Lycopene has actually revealed blood pressure-lowering impacts and diet plans abundant in lycopene have actually been related to lower danger of some kinds of cancer. It might also have benefits for skin protection.
  • There is no official advised day-to-day consumption for lycopene. Average intake in the United States is approximated to be about 2 milligrams of lycopene per day, which has to do with the quantity discovered in a 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes.
  • Lycopene in the quantities found in plant sources is thought to be safe for everyone. Particular groups, like individuals on blood-thinning or blood pressure medications and pregnant ladies, ought to prevent utilizing lycopene from dietary supplements. [10]


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