Is lycopene in tomato enough for you? What about other tomato products?
Why lycopene is good for you?
Lycopene is a carotenoid. It’s one of the most powerful antioxidants. It has great health benefits.
Many chronic diseases are caused by oxidative damage.
So, we should consume antioxidants to boost immune system.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids are available from food.
There is no need to buy supplements if you follow a healthy plant-based diet. For instance, there are so many foods rich in vitamin C, that supplementation of 1000 mg of vitamin C is really unnecessary. Also, most people consume polyphenols from tea, coffee, and olive oil.
Even tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C.
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. Moreover, polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin E, or vitamin C are abundant only in plants. Most animal products don’t contain any significant amount.
As a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene has linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Lycopene has mostly linked to decreased risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Did you know that about 50% of all cancers have been caused by diet choices? A whole food plant-based diet will effectively boost your immune system though.
Furthermore, lycopene has many great health benefits:
- eyesight. Researchers found that lycopene has so powerful antioxidant properties, that can protect your eyesight. Lycopene consumption helped in therapy against cataracts (2).
- bones. Lycopene decreases oxidative stress. Research has shown that lycopene is good for bone health. Above all, lycopene can restore bone strength (3).
- Alzheimer’s disease. Also, lycopene may delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease (4).
What foods are rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene?
Most noteworthy, lycopene is present only in plants. Not in animal products.
Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants. It’s twice more powerful than beta-carotene and 10 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol.
Most noteworthy, lycopene is the most predominant carotenoid in the blood.
How much lycopene do we need per day?
Currently, there isn’t an official recommended daily intake for lycopene.
However, many studies have reported great health benefits for a daily lycopene intake of 15-30 mg.
Most people don’t consume more than 10 mg of lycopene per day.
Moreover, most people consume lycopene only from processed tomato products.
Foods rich in lycopene
Red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene.
Besides tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, apricots, and guavas are the best sources of lycopene.
Furthermore, all processed tomato products, such as tomato juice, paste, soup, sauce, and ketchup contain great amount of lycopene.
How much lycopene in one tomato?
According to the USDA, 100 gr of raw tomato has 2.6 mg of lycopene.
Practically, the lycopene content of a tomato is:
- small tomato (2-2/5″) is 2.3 mg,
- medium tomato (2-3/5″) is 3.2 mg,
- large tomato (3″) is 4.7 mg,
- a cup of chopped tomatoes has 4.6 mg.
Green, yellow, or orange tomato varieties have little or no lycopene.
Tomato juice vs paste vs soup vs sauce vs ketchup
The main source of lycopene is processed tomato products. Lycopene isn’t destroyed by the processing methods.
So, the most common sources of lycopene are tomato-based products (5):
- tomato juice has 9 mg.
- ketchup has 14.2 mg.
- tomato paste has 7.5 mg,
- dried tomatoes have 46 mg,
- tomato soup has 5.5 mg,
- tomato sauce has 16 mg.
Certainly, dried tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene.
How to increase lycopene bioavailability?
Processed tomato products not only provide lycopene, but also the lycopene in them is more bioavailable than raw tomatoes.
Processing of tomato enhances lycopene bioavailability.
Also, the bioavailability of lycopene is significantly higher when we consume foods rich in beta-carotene.
- Canadian Medical Association Journal: Tomato lycopene and its role in human health and chronic diseases
- NCBI: Lycopene attenuates oxidative stress-induced experimental cataract development: an in vitro and in vivo study.
- Lycopene treatment against loss of bone mass, microarchitecture and strength in relation to regulatory mechanisms in a postmenopausal osteoporosis model.
- Lycopene attenuates Aβ1-42 secretion and its toxicity in human cell and Caenorhabditis elegans models of Alzheimer disease.
- PMC: Lycopene Extracts from Different Tomato-Based Food Products Induce Apoptosis in Cultured Human Primary Prostate Cancer Cells