Lycopene

Lycopene is a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment found in vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.

Major Health Benefits

Like the other carotenoids, lycopene acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage.1 Lycopene may protect the skin from UV damage.2,3 Higher blood lycopene level is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women.4 Consistent consumption of fruits and vegetables high in lycopene is related to lower risk of lung and prostate cancer.5,6 Low consumption of lycopene has shown increased risk of cataracts, which may indicate that lycopene plays a role in normal eye health.7

References

  1. Higdon, J. Cartoneiods. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2004. (Reviewed by Johnson, EJ in 2009). (Antioxidant Activity) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/carotenoids Accessed in July 2015.
  2. Scarmo S, Cartmel B, Lin H, Leffell DJ, Welch E, Bhosale P, Bernstein PS, Mayne ST. Significant correlations of dermal total carotenoids and dermal lycopene with their respective plasma levels in healthy adults. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Dec 1;504(1):34-9.PMID: 20637178; PMCID: PMC2957565.
  3. Stahl W, Heinrich U, Aust O, Tronnier H, Sies H. Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb;5(2):238-42. Epub 2005 Aug 12. PMID: 16465309.
  4. Sesso HD, Buring JE, Norkus EP, Gaziano JM. Plasma lycopene, other carotenoids, and retinol and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;79(1):47-53.PMID: 14684396.
  5. Holick CN, Michaud DS, Stolzenberg-Solomon R, et al. Dietary carotenoids, serum beta-carotene, and retinol and risk of lung cancer in the alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Sep 15;156(6):536-47. PMID: 12226001.
  6. Giovannucci E. A review of epidemiologic studies of tomatoes, lycopene, and prostate cancer. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2002 Nov;227(10):852-9. PMID: 12424325.
  7. Dherani M, Murthy GV, Gupta SK, et al. Blood levels of vitamin C, carotenoids and retinol are inversely associated with cataract in a North Indian population. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Aug;49(8):3328-35. PMID: 18421094.