Lycopene gives tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava their red color. Many (but not all) red-colored fruits and vegetables contain lycopene. Some vegetables, such as asparagus, although not red, also have high levels of lycopene. In many countries, the majority of lycopene in the diet comes from tomatoes and tomato products like tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup.
The bioavailability of lycopene from tomatoes is substantially improved by heating tomatoes in oil.
Synthetic lycopene and lycopene from natural sources, mainly tomatoes, are available as nutritional supplements. Many commercial supplements provide 5–20 mg of lycopene.
Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Jonas Wittwer Schegg on 06.10.2017.