Lycopene Benefits: Benefits & Food Sources

There are many helpful vitamins and nutrients we can target in our diets or supplements. 

But lots of people don’t know the true value of lycopene, what it does, or why they should try to eat foods with it. In truth, lycopene is a very beneficial nutrient that could provide a wide range of advantages for younger and older folks alike.

Let’s look at lycopene and its benefits, and explore how you can acquire this nutrient through your food or other sources.

What Is Lycopene?

Lycopene is a popular and effective plant nutrient that boasts many antioxidant properties. Lycopene is the pigment that gives various pink or red fruits, like pink grapefruit, watermelons, and tomatoes, their notable colors.

When your body absorbs lycopene, it might experience several health benefits. While not an essential nutrient or mineral, lycopene is an important nutrient and affects many bodily systems. 

When combined with other common nutrients or vitamins found in fruits and vegetables, lycopene could be quite beneficial to your bodily health.

What Are Some Lycopene Benefits?

What exactly does lycopene do, and is it really worthwhile? 

Here are some of the main benefits you might see from lycopene.

Antioxidant Effects

For starters, lycopene is well known for its antioxidant effects. As a carotenoid, lycopene is a potent antioxidant, which means that it can neutralize free radical molecules. Free radicals may create oxidative stress due to their electron imbalances — in essence, they either have too many electrons or lack an electron.

As an antioxidant, lycopene can balance free radicals by either donating or taking an electron from them. In this way, lycopene’s antioxidant properties could help to protect your body against a variety of conditions, ranging from diabetes to heart disease to Alzheimer’s and more.

The exact link between free radicals and these conditions is not fully understood. But scientists do know that it’s important for your body to have more antioxidants than free radicals.

Improved Heart Health

Additionally, lycopene could help you avoid developing harmful heart conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. 

Specifically, lycopene could help to reduce “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels while supporting a higher level of “good” or HDL cholesterol. Since cholesterol is directly related to your risk of heart disease or stroke, this is a good thing!

Some scientists have noted that individuals with high blood lycopene levels have a 39% lower risk of dying prematurely due to heart disease. While lycopene can’t prevent heart disease entirely, there are certainly some positive links between higher levels of lycopene in your diet.

If you already have high oxidative stress or low antioxidant levels in your body, lycopene might be especially protective because of its other effects mentioned above.

Sunburn Protection

Folks with pale skin already know the benefit of protecting their skin against UV radiation. UV radiation can lead to skin cancer by damaging cells and compromising their ability to reproduce properly.

Fortunately, lycopene could help to protect you against some damaging effects from the sun. Certain studies have indicated that lycopene minimizes skin reactions to high levels of UV exposure. 

While it doesn't act directly as a sunblock, lycopene may help minimize cellular damage in the same way that it neutralizes free radical damage throughout your body and bloodstream.

Note that you should still use sunscreen if you are at a high risk of skin cancer or you have pale skin!

Ancillary Benefits

These main benefits aren’t all that lycopene could potentially provide to your wellness. Some scientists and studies have noted ancillary benefits including but not limited to:

  • Potential eyesight improvements. That’s because lycopene could help to either prevent or delay cataracts formation or prevent macular degeneration, which often leads to blindness or poor eyesight for older adults.
  • Bone strength improvements. Thanks to its antioxidant effects, lycopene could help your bone cells to remain healthy and strong for years to come, even as you age.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Brain improvements. Once again, lycopene’s status as an antioxidant could help to reduce memory loss or the chance for seizures, especially if you are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other measures, such as making sure you get enough sleep, can also assist with this.
  • Potentially reduced risk of prostate cancers and other types of cancer

All in all, lycopene is a very beneficial nutrient in more ways than one. Fortunately, lycopene is common in various foods, so odds are you already consume some of it every week!

Where Can You Get Lycopene?

You can get lycopene either in your diet or through dedicated supplements. Both methods can work depending on your health goals and whether your diet already includes an appropriate level of lycopene.

What Are Dietary Sources of Lycopene?

Lycopene is present in a lot of popular foods, including but not limited to:

  • Papaya
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Fresh tomatoes, processed tomato products such as canned and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as tomato purée
  • Tomato sauce, tomato juice, and other tomato products
  • Ketchup
  • Red cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Guava beans
  • Orange puree
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet red peppers

Lycopene is often found with beta carotene and other compounds. As you can see, getting enough lycopene intake is easy if you eat enough fruits and veggies!

At the moment, there aren't any guidelines regarding recommended daily intake of lycopene. That said, certain studies indicate that taking between 8 to 21 mg per day is most beneficial. That amount may be most likely to help you see the advantages described above.

What About Lycopene Supplements?

Alternatively, you can target lycopene-specific supplements. However, you should be careful when using these, as lycopene supplements could interact with medications, like blood pressure-lowering medications or blood thinners.

Certain studies have indicated that daily lycopene supplements of just 2 mg per day could lead to higher chances of low birth weight or preterm labor. 

Of course, pregnant women should always ask their doctors before starting any new supplement regimen, not just supplements for lycopene.

Generally, you won't need lycopene-specific supplements unless you never eat the foods described above. Since lycopene is not an essential nutrient, you don't necessarily need any of it in your body, either.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Lycopene?

For most people, no. 

Lycopene is broadly considered safe, particularly if you get lycopene from your diet rather than through concentrated supplements. That’s because it’s hard to overdose on lycopene (and because there isn’t any hard limit on how much lycopene you should consume).

That said, some scientists have discovered that eating lots of lycopene-rich foods, like tomatoes, could lead to skin discoloration. This condition, called lycopenodermia, could make your skin look a little redder than usual. But it’s not known whether this is associated with other side effects or just an aesthetic change.

Once more, consuming enough lycopene to acquire this condition is difficult. So long as you don't overdo it on the tomatoes or take a lycopene supplement, you likely won't need to worry about this!


As you can see, lycopene can do a lot of great things for your body and your overall health. That’s especially true when you combine lycopene with other key ingredients found in supplements like Hope Health’s Organic + Immunity Tablets, which are packed full of ingredients like vitamin E, vitamin C, and moringa.

Want to know more or check out other health supplements? Visit our online store today!


Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention? | NCBI

Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo: a randomized controlled trial | NCBI

Higher levels of serum lycopene are associated with reduced mortality in individuals with metabolic syndrome | NCBI

Lycopene attenuates oxidative stress induced experimental cataract development: an in vitro and in vivo study | NCBI

Lycopene treatment against loss of bone mass, microarchitecture and strength in relation to regulatory mechanisms in a postmenopausal osteoporosis model | NCBI

Neuroprotective Effect of Lycopene Against PTZ-induced Kindling Seizures in Mice: Possible Behavioural, Biochemical and Mitochondrial Dysfunction | NCBI