Lycopene is currently the most powerful antioxidant which has been measured in food2 and is thought to play a role in preventing cancer and heart disease. 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, watermelon, tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, sweet red peppers, asparagus, purple cabbage, mangos, and carrots. Below is a list of high lycopene foods, for more, see the lists of high lycopene foods by nutrient density, and lycopene rich foods.
For more foods high in lycopene use the nutrient ranking tool. *Amount of lycopene may vary greatly between products. Be sure to check nutrition labels for the exact amount of lycopene from each individual product.
Health Benefits of Lycopene
Reduced Cancer Risk(3-6)
Protection Against Heart Disease(7,8)
Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration(9)
As of 2005 the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA) has not approved scientific claims of lycopene's health benefits to be significant. However, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and several studies have found evidence to suggest thatlycopene may provide the health benefits listed above.
Liver and Fois Gras are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.
Consuming excess amounts of lycopene can lead to skin discolorations known as lycopenodermia. This condition is considered harmlessand will go away on its own when lycopene is no longer consumed. Upper limits for intake of lycopene have not been established, and consuminghigh doses of lycopene should be approached with caution and doctor supervision.