What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a carotenoid, a potent antioxidant, found in high concentrations in vegetables such as tomato. Lycopene is a pigment synthesized by plants but not animals.
Health benefits of lycopene
Dietary intake of tomatoes and tomato products containing lycopene has been shown to be associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The antioxidant properties of lycopene are thought to be one of the main factors resposible for its beneficial effects.
In a case-control Chinese study, that evaluated the association between consumption of carotenoids-rich fruits and vegetables and risks of prostate cancer incidence, it was reported that risk of prostate cancer declined with increasing consumption of lycopene and other carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin). According to the study intake of tomatoes, pumpkin, spinach, watermelon and citrus fruits were also associated with reduced risks of prostate cancer.
Table: List of lycopene food sources (ordered high to low) and an estimate of their lycopene content in (µg/ 100 gram food).
|Lycopene food sources||Lycopene content (µg/ 100 gram food)|
|Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added||28764.1|
|Tomato products, canned, sauce||15151.8|
|Tomato juice, canned, with salt added||9037.0|
|Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, stewed||4034.9|
|Salad dressing, russian dressing||3575.2|
|Salad dressing, thousand island dressing, reduced fat||3098.0|
|Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, whole, regular pack||2700.0|
|Salad dressing, thousand island, commercial, regular||2596.2|
|Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average||2570.6 - 2575.0|
|Salad dressing, french dressing, reduced fat||2527.6|
|Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas||1418.7|
|Salad dressing, russian dressing, low calorie||625.8|
|Beans, baked, canned, plain or vegetarian||511.0|
|Spices, parsley, dried||384.6|
|Salad dressing, french dressing, commercial, regular||371.8|
|Peppers, sweet, red, raw||308.1|
|Spices, cinnamon, ground||43.5|
|Spices, chili powder||38.5|
|Asparagus, cooked, boiled, drained||30.0|
|Asparagus, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt||23.9|
|Asparagus, canned, drained solids||23.6|
|Chicken, liver, all classes, cooked, simmered||20.4|
|Cabbage, red, raw||20.0|
|Salad dressing, italian dressing, commercial, regular||13.6|
|Turkey, all classes, giblets, cooked, simmered, some giblet fat||2.8|
|Carrot juice, canned||2.1|
|Carrots, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt||2.1|
|Carrots, raw||0.9 - 1.4|
|Fruit punch drink, with added nutrients, canned||0.8|
|Carambola, (starfruit), raw||0.0|
|Cherries, sweet, raw||0.0|
|Cranberry sauce, canned, sweetened||0.0|
|Dates, deglet noor||0.0|
|Figs, dried, uncooked||0.0|
|Fruit cocktail, (peach and pineapple and pear and grape and cherry), canned, heavy syrup, solids and liquids||0.0|
|Grape juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened, without added vitamin C||0.0|
|Grapefruit juice, white, canned, unsweetened||0.0|
|Grapefruit juice, white, raw||0.0|
|Grapefruit, raw, white, all areas||0.0|
|Grapes, red or green (european type varieties, such as, Thompson seedless), raw||0.0|
|Kiwi fruit, (chinese gooseberries), fresh, raw||0.0|
|Lemons, raw, without peel||0.0|
|Melons, cantaloupe, raw||0.0|
|Melons, honeydew, raw||0.0|
|Olives, ripe, canned (small-extra large)||0.0|
|Orange juice, raw||0.0|
|Oranges, raw, all commercial varieties||0.0|
|Pineapple, raw, all varieties||0.0|
|Spices, pepper, black||0.0|
|Tangerine juice, canned, sweetened||0.0|
|Tangerines, (mandarin oranges), raw||0.0|
Lists of antioxidant food sources and their content:
Antioxidant content in vegetables
Antioxidant content in fruits -I
Antioxidant content in Fruits - II
Antioxidant content in black and green tea, wine, coffee
Antioxidant content in dark chocolate and other cocoa products
Antioxidant content in cereals grains
Antioxidant content in Breakfast cereals
Antioxidant content in fruits, vegetables, nuts
Edward Giovannucci, Alberto Ascherio, Eric B. Rimm, Meir J. Stampfer, Graham A. Colditz, Walter C. Willett. 1995. Intake of Carotenoids and Retino in Relation to Risk of Prostate Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 87(23): 1767-1776.
Le Jian, Chuan-Jun Du, Andy H. Lee , Colin W. Binns. 2005. Do dietary lycopene and other carotenoids protect against prostate cancer? Internatinal Journal of Cancer, 113(6):1010-1014.
Sanjiv Agarwal and Akkinappally Venketeshwer Rao. 2000. Tomato lycopene and its role in human health and chronic diseases. CMAJ, 163 (6): 739 - 744.
Lycopene content in foods: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 19(2006).