Lycopene is an in proportion tetraterpene, i.e. assembled from eight isoprene systems. It is a member of the carotenoid family of substances, and due to the fact that it consists totally of carbon and hydrogen, is also classified 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 form, the particle is long and directly, constrained by its system of 11 conjugated double bonds. Each extension in this conjugated system minimizes the energy required for electrons to transition to greater energy states, enabling the particle to absorb noticeable light of gradually longer wavelengths. Lycopene absorbs all but the longest wavelengths of noticeable 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 rather than direct shape. Various isomers were shown 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, different cis-isomers make up more than 60% of the overall lycopene concentration, but the biological results of specific isomers have not been investigated.

Lycopene is a crucial intermediate in the biosynthesis of many carotenoids.

Carotenoids like lycopene are found in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes in plants, photosynthetic germs, fungis, and algae. They are responsible for the intense orange– red colors of fruits and vegetables, perform different functions in photosynthesis, and safeguard photosynthetic organisms from excessive 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 boosting their optical properties. Effective energy transfer occurs in between the encapsulated dye and nanotube– light is soaked up by the dye and without substantial loss is transferred to the nanotube. Encapsulation increases chemical and thermal stability of lycopene particles; it also enables their isolation and private characterization.


The unconditioned biosynthesis of lycopene in eukaryotic plants and in prokaryotic cyanobacteria is comparable, as are the enzymes involved. [4] Synthesis starts with mevalonic acid, which is converted into dimethylallyl pyrophosphate. This is then condensed with 3 particles of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (an isomer of dimethylallyl pyrophosphate), to give the 20-carbon geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. Two molecules of this item are then condensed in a tail-to-tail configuration to give the 40-carbon phytoene, the very first dedicated step in carotenoid biosynthesis. Through a number of 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 transformed into a wide variety of xanthophylls. [2]


Strong Antioxidant Characteristics

Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family.

Anti-oxidants safeguard your body from damage triggered by substances referred to as totally free radicals.

When complimentary extreme levels surpass antioxidant levels, they can produce oxidative stress in your body. This tension is linked to specific chronic illness, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

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

In addition, test-tube and animal studies reveal that lycopene may protect your body versus damage triggered by pesticides, herbicides, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and particular kinds of fungi.


Lycopene is a strong antioxidant that can secure your body versus oxidative tension and use some protection from particular environmental contaminants and chronic diseases.

May Protect Versus Certain Types of Cancer

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

For instance, test-tube research studies reveal that the nutrient might slow down the growth of breast and prostate cancers by limiting tumor growth.

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

In people, observational studies connect high intakes of carotenoids, including lycopene, to a 32– 50% lower threat of lung and prostate cancers.

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

Men who took in a minimum of two servings of lycopene-rich tomato sauce each week were 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who consumed less than one serving of tomato sauce monthly.

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


Diets abundant in the antioxidant lycopene might help prevent the advancement of prostate cancer. It may likewise secure versus cancers of the lungs, breasts and kidneys, however more human-based research study is needed to validate this.

May Promote Heart Health

Lycopene might also assist decrease your risk of establishing or prematurely passing away from cardiovascular disease.

That’s in part because it may lower heart problem threat aspects. More particularly, it may reduce free-radical damage, total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

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

Over a 10-year period, researchers kept in mind that people with metabolic illness who had the highest blood lycopene levels had up to a 39% lower threat of dying prematurely.

In another 10-year research study, diet plans rich in this nutrient were linked to a 17– 26% lower risk of heart disease. A current evaluation even more associates high blood levels of lycopene with a 31% lower danger of stroke.

Lycopene’s protective results appear especially beneficial to those with low blood antioxidant levels or high levels of oxidative tension. This includes older grownups and people who smoke or have diabetes or heart problem.


Lycopene’s strong antioxidant residential or commercial properties might help improve cholesterol levels and minimize your probability of developing or passing away prematurely from heart problem.

Might Protect Versus Sunburn

Lycopene also appears to provide some security versus the harmful impacts of the sun.

In one little 12-week research study, participants were exposed to UV rays before and after consuming 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 direct exposure.

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

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

That stated, lycopene’s protection against UV damage is minimal and ruled out a good replacement for using sun block.


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

Other Possible Benefits

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

May assist your eyesight: Lycopene might avoid or delay the development of cataracts and decrease your danger of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older grownups.

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

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

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

So far, the majority of these advantages have actually only been observed in test-tube and animal research study. More studies in human beings are needed prior to strong conclusions can be made.


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

Which 5 foods are rich 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 packed with other nutrients that supply a selection of other health advantages.

Tomato. This is the most popular source of lycopene! Prepared tomatoes tend to provide the highest quantities of bioavailable lycopene. Tomato items like sauces and catsup may supply more in weight, but many people don’t consume a large quantity on their dishes relative to consuming a whole tomato. Another excellent method to get the lycopene benefits from tomatoes is with a scrumptious tomato soup. Substitute that for clam chowder any day!

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

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

Carrots. Carrots are some of the most carotenoid-rich foods. Red carrots are the highest in lycopene and also contain even greater amounts of beta-carotene in addition to some alpha-carotene (for this reason their eponymous name).

Papaya. What used to be a thought about a rare and unique 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 also contain papain, an enzyme that promotes food digestion. Keep an eye out for papayas next you go grocery shopping!

Is lycopene found in tomatoes?

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

What fruit has one of the most lycopene?

Cooked tomatoes, of course!

Does cooking destroy lycopene?

Cooking at heats might cause a loss of certain helpful nutrients from your food, including vitamins and antioxidants. However, particular heating approaches have actually 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 easily 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 multiple types of studies such as randomized placebo-controlled trials and case-control research studies, usage of tomato foods, cooked tomatoes, and sauces were associated with a healthy prostate, whereas consumption of raw tomatoes was not associated with a statistically considerable improvement.

Note: Research is required to assess how different cooking approaches may impact lycopene bioavailability in other foods.

How cooking tomatoes modifications lycopene bioavailability

Sundried tomatoes are a great way to get lycopene.

When it concerns how your body uses the lycopene that remains in your food, how it’s prepared really matters. Some interesting truths:.

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

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

Good news and problem about tomato sauce. Tomato paste and sauce are used an industrial technique called thermal processing. These tomato products have more bioavailable lycopene than a fresh tomato, but the thermal processing breaks down particular kinds of vitamins A, C, and E. One study showed that regardless of this, the thermal processing leads to higher total antioxidant activity compared to fresh tomatoes.

Word to the wise: Consuming foods cooked vs. raw

If you’re amazed that prepared tomatoes are a much 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 consuming specific foods raw is healthier than cooking these foods due to the fact that cooking might produce certain unfavorable chain reaction.

Applying heat to food develops AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). Low-heat cooking methods such as poaching and steaming are safe since they result in very little AGE formation, whereas high heat cooking such as barbecuing and frying causes possibly impactful levels of AGE’s.

As constantly, moderation is key! Some heating techniques produce bioavailable lycopene in tomatoes, however there’s no requirement to limit yourself to only consuming prepared tomatoes or tomato items. Try some ready-to-serve fresh tomatoes every once in a while. [4]

Couple of more sources that you might not know

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are already understood for being excellent sources of vitamin A, fiber, and contributing to glowing skin, but they’re also fantastic sources of lycopene. They can serve as a terrific post-workout treat, a side dish (sweet potato french fries all the time, please), or contributed to a coconut curry dish.

Pink grapefruit

Half of a grapefruit contains around 2 milligrams of lycopene and is likewise considered an excellent source of vitamin C. We love how versatile pink grapefruits are; they can be contributed to both sweet and mouthwatering dishes or used in beverages like the revitalizing mocktail recipe below. They can likewise be utilized to make frozen desserts, salads, or on their own for an early morning treat.

Blood oranges

Unlike standard oranges, blood oranges have a flower 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 selection of dishes, from a citrus salad or salmon marinade to shakes 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 consists of over 5 milligrams of lycopene per 100 grams, and includes vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3s. You can opt to eat guava by itself or added into a great glaze for meats.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers are super versatile and can be contributed to almost any meal, from tofu scrambles and avocado toast to sandwiches, wraps, and grain bowls. In addition to consisting of lycopene, they’re also thought about a hydrating snack considering bell peppers are 92 percent water. [5]

Rose Hips

Here’s a less foreseeable alternative for lycopene. Rose hips are a type 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 often utilized to make maintains and herbal tea. There are some more uncommon uses too, such as increased hip bread, soup, and red wine. You can even consume the fruit raw, as long as you prevent all the hairs inside the rose hip.

The lycopene content is one reason to eat rose hips, as they are remarkably impressive. You even get more lycopene in a cup of rose hips than you carry out in a cup of prepared 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 choosing your fruit.

The concerns with grapefruit and medication remain the very same no matter the kind of grapefruit that you choose. So, once again, talk with your doctor if you have any issues.


Asparagus might appear like the odd one out on this list, as the veggie is green. The quantity of lycopene in a serving isn’t outstanding either. You only navigate 50 μg in a cup of prepared asparagus. You would need to consume an extreme quantity of asparagus to get anywhere close to the levels in the fruits we’ve included– which isn’t a suggested practice.

Asparagus can still be considered lycopene abundant due to the ratio of lycopene to calories. Due to the fact that asparagus is low in calories, you wind up with around 270 μg of lycopene per 200 calories.

This implies that you can easily utilize asparagus to add a little lycopene to your diet. Doing so could be ideal if you are closely watching your calorie intake.

Red Cabbage

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

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


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

These have actually orange-red colored fresh and tend to be non-astringent. The terms recommends that the persimmons are devoid of tannins, however that idea isn’t strictly precise. Instead, non-astringent persimmons consist of less tannins than the astringent varieties and lose their tannins faster.

Because of this, Fuyu persimmons can be consumed 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 eaten.

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 an advised day-to-day consumption for the compound anyhow.

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

Many Soups

The lycopene content of tomatoes suggests that soups often wind up being abundant 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 consist of a good quantity of lycopene– although soup you make yourself will constantly be better.

And, naturally, any type of tomato soup will provide you plenty of lycopene. Tomato soup even winds up being among your finest options because of the quantity of tomato you’re using for the serving size.

Pasta With Marinara Sauce

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

You don’t need to stick with pasta either. You might easily replacement for a low carb pasta alternative, like zoodles or spaghetti squash.


Depending on how you make them, hamburgers can provide you with lycopene too. After all, you’re often utilizing chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce as active ingredients, which are both high in lycopene. You might attempt adding some sliced red peppers in as well. [6]

How much lycopene is too much?

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

This being stated, if you’re consuming a great deal of lycopene-rich foods, you might discover your skin turning an orange-red tint. This condition is referred to as lycopenemia and although it’s safe, it’s most likely not the appearance you want. Lycopenemia can be caused by lycopene or other carotenoids in your diet plan– e.g. alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein or zeaxanthin. It’s difficult to say just how much lycopene will cause lycopenemia, however the few recorded cases point out 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 does not have diversity, you shouldn’t fret excessive about reddening. [7]

Health Risks

Lycopene is considered safe and there are no recognized ceilings advised for its intake.

However, some cases of incredibly high lycopene intake have resulted in slight skin staining. One case study reported that a female who drank about 2 liters of tomato juice daily over numerous years developed an orange tint to her skin. This issue is only short-lived, nevertheless. After decreasing her lycopene consumption, the woman’s skin staining faded in a couple of weeks.

While research is continuous, there are not presently any known negative effects associated with taking lycopene. However, high levels of lycopene might not be suitable for:.

  • People with low high blood pressure
  • Individuals with stomach ulcers
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding ladies
  • Individuals taking medication for heart problem, cancer, or skin problem
  • Individuals using hormonal agent therapy
  • Speak with your physician before changing your diet plan to make sure lycopene is safe for you and won’t interact 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, might result in reduced absorption. Other supplements, such as calcium, can likewise reduce absorption.

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

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

Lipase inhibitors: Lipase inhibitors, which decrease fat absorption, might likewise impact your body’s capability to soak up lycopene.

How to Store Lycopene

Lycopene needs to be saved at space temperature and away from direct sunlight. The majority of containers block ultraviolet (UV) light to protect the supplement from damage.

Comparable Supplements

Supplements similar to lycopene consist of:.

Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and antioxidants like lycopene.24 Nevertheless, they are found in different foods. For example, beta-carotene is widely known for giving carrots their orange color and is also found in sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and numerous other foods. Lutein and zeaxanthin are generally found in dark green veggies.

Beta-carotene is really converted into another antioxidant, vitamin A, in the body.25 Vitamin A can generally be found in the very same foods as beta-carotene. Vitamins E and C are also common antioxidants in our diet. Vitamin E, likewise called tocopherol, is discovered in a variety of foods, consisting of almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, and tomatoes. Vitamin C is widely known for its existence in citrus fruits but is likewise in tomatoes and many other foods. [9]

The bottom line

  • Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that comes from the carotenoid group. It’s discovered in high quantities in red and pink fruits, along with dietary supplements.
  • Lycopene has shown blood pressure-lowering effects and diet plans abundant in lycopene have been associated with lower danger of some types of cancer. It might likewise have advantages for skin protection.
  • There is no authorities advised daily consumption for lycopene. Average intake in the United States is estimated to be about 2 milligrams of lycopene per day, which is about the quantity found in a 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes.
  • Lycopene in the amounts discovered in plant sources is thought to be safe for everybody. Specific groups, like people on blood-thinning or high blood pressure medications and pregnant women, should prevent utilizing lycopene from dietary supplements. [10]


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