Lycopene is a phytochemical and comes under the group of carotenoids. Although chemically it is a carotene, it has no vitamin A activity. It is a safe food coloring agent. The eleven conjugated double bonds present in lycopene are responsible for its antioxidant activity. Lycopene is the most powerful quencher of singlet oxygen free radical. It is 100 times more powerful than vitamin E in experiments.

The health benefits of lycopene include:

• Heart protective
• Good antioxidant to control free radicals
• Supports bone health
• Important for eye health
• Reduces the risk of prostate, lung, stomach and breast cancer
• Good for anti aging
• Good antioxidant to treat male infertility

More research is needed to understand the value of lycopene for human health.

Tomato is the rich source for lycopene. Lycopene is present in tomato skin and so the bioavailability is bad from fresh tomato. Tomato juice and processed tomato have the highest amount of lycopene.

Foods rich in lycopene include:

• Tomatoes
• Processed tomato products such as tomato juice, tomato soup, tolmato sauce, tomato paste, tomato ketchup
• Watermelons
• Pink grapefruits
• Pink guavas
• Apricots
• Papaya

Lycopene is useful with other micronutrients and plant chemicals present in the food. Therefore, as a food supplement it may not have all the benefits that you get from tomato or other fruits.