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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.

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

Half a guava

#1: Guavas

Lycopene per CupLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Guavas

#2: Tomato

Lycopene per Cup CookedLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Cooked Tomatoes
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

Lycopene per CupLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Watermelon
Cross section of grapefruit

#4: Grapefruit

Lycopene 1 Cup SectionsLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Pink Grapefruit

#5: Papaya

Lycopene per CupLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Papaya
Mamey Sapote provides 384μg per cup.
Red Bell Peppers

#6: Red Bell Peppers

Lycopene per Cup CookedLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Red Bell Peppers (Cooked)

#7: Persimmon

Lycopene per FruitLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Fuyu Persimmon

#8: Asparagus

Lycopene per Cup CookedLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Asparagus (Cooked)
Half a Red Cabbage

#9: Red Cabbage

Lycopene per Cup ChoppedLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for Red Cabbage

#10: Mangos

Lycopene per CupLycopene per 100g
Source: Nutrition Facts for 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.

High Lycopene Foods by Nutrient Density

#1 Sun-Dried Tomatoes100 grams45902μg
#2 Pasta Sauce100 grams12717μg
#3 Ketchup100 grams12062μg
#4 Rose Hips100 grams6800μg
#5 Canned Minestrone100 grams5963μg
#6 Guavas100 grams5204μg
#7 Manhattan Clam Chowder100 grams5112μg
#8 Watermelon100 grams4532μg
#9 Tomato100 grams3041μg
#10 Papaya100 grams1828μg

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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