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Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
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Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene

Lycopene is currently the most powerful antioxidant which has been measured in food (2) and is thought to play a role in preventing cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration (3,4,5,6,7,8). How large a protective role lycopene plays is a controversial issue which is still under scientific study.

Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives many fruits and vegetables their red color, eating lycopene in excess amounts can cause the skin and liver to have a yellow color. Unlike other carotenes, lycopene does not get converted into vitamin A.

There are no known symptoms of a lycopene deficiency, and no daily value (DV) for lycopene.

Foods high in lycopene include guavas, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, sweet red peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage, and mangos. (1)

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List of High Lycopene Foods

1 Guavas
Half a guava

More Tomato Products High in Lycopene

-18984μg in a 1/4 cup of tomato paste
-16784μg in 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
-1433μg in 1 cup of minestrone soup
3 Watermelon
4 Grapefruit
Cross section of grapefruit
Mamey Sapote provides 384μg per cup.
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6 Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers
7 Persimmon
8 Asparagus
9 Red Cabbage
Half a Red Cabbage
10 Mangos
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Foods high in lycopene include guavas, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, sweet red peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage, and mangos.

Health Benefits of Lycopene

  • Reduced Cancer Risk. (3,4,5,6)
  • Protection Against Heart Disease. (7)
  • Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration. (8)


Consuming excess amounts of lycopene can lead to skin discolorations known as lycopenodermia. This condition is considered harmless and will go away on its own when lycopene is no longer consumed. Upper limits for intake of lycopene have not been established, and consuming high doses of lycopene should be approached with caution and doctor supervision.

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Mascio PD, Kaiser S, Sies H. Lycopene as the most efficient biological carotenoid singlet oxygen quencher. Biochemistry and Biophysics Volume 274, Issue 2, 1 November 1989, Pages 532-538.
  3. Giovannucci E, Ascherio A, Rimm EB, et al. Intake of carotenoids and retinol in relation to risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995;87:1767-1776.
  4. Sies H, Stahl W. Lycopene: antioxidant and biological effects and its bioavailability in the human. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998;218:121-124.
  5. Rao AV, Agarwal S. Bioavailability and in vivo antioxidant properties of lycopene from tomato products and their possible role in the prevention of cancer. Nutr Cancer. 1998;31:199-203.
  6. Franceschi S, Bidoli E, La Vecchia C, et al. Tomatoes and risk of digestive-tract cancers. Int J Cancer. 1994;59:181-184.
  7. Sesso HD, Liu S, Gaziano JM, et al. Dietary lycopene, tomato-based food products and cardiovascular disease in women. J Nutr. 2003;133:2336-2341.
  8. Mares-Perlman JA, Brady WE, Klein R, et al. Serum antioxidants and age-related macular degeneration in a population-based case-control study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1995;113:1518-1523.
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