Diane May Nutrition Blog

Health Benefits of Lycopene

July 10th, 2016

Lycopene is a naturally occurring fat soluble carotinoid (any of a class of mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, including carotene, which give color to plant parts such as ripe tomatoes.), that has many health properties.  It is important to note that although lycopene is a carotenoid, it has no Vitamin A properties and there are some foods that are not red, yellow or orange but contain lycopene, such as asparagus and parsley. A diet rich in lycopene can reduce risk of prostate and other cancers. Although research is limited, there is promise that lycopene might have chemo protective properties.  The American Institute for Cancer Research is always a good resource regarding cancer research. Newer research, published in Neurology, showed that a diet rich in lycopene (specifically tomatoes) could lower risk of stroke. Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis can also be improved with the addition of lycopene. An article published in  Experimental Biology and Medicine showed great promise in regard to heart disease and the role of lycopene. Lycopene is best absorbed when combined with fat (as it is a fat soluble compound), so add some olive oil to that tomato sauce! When fat is not used, the important fat soluble carotinoid can pass right through the intestine and not be absorbed at all. Absorption of lycopene is also increased when foods are heated. Lycopene is more bio available when consumed through food and not taken as a supplement.  Good sources of lycopene include, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papayas, apricots, guava, red carrots and tomatoes. Lycopene is NOT found in strawberries or cherries! According to the National Institute of Health, Americans get 85% of their lycopene from tomatoes and we are in the heart of tomato season now, so eat those tomatoes (as well as other lycopene rich foods) and enjoy all the health benefits!

Seaside Tomato Gazpacho

From EatingWell:  July/August 2013

health benefits of lycopene

Makes: 6 appetizer servings (1 cup each) or 4 entree servings (1 1/2 cups each)

Serving Size: 1 cup

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes



  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable juice, such as V8 or R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fennel bulb or celery, plus 1/4 cup fennel fronds or celery leaves, divided
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped cooked lobster from two 1- to 1 1/4-pound live lobsters or 2 cups chopped peeled cooked shrimp
  • 1 avocado, chopped



  1. Combine vegetable juice, bell pepper, fennel (or celery), tomato, onion, vinegar, oil, Old Bay, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. Top each serving of gazpacho with 1/2 cup lobster (or shrimp) for an entree portion or 1/3 cup for an appetizer serving. Garnish with avocado and fennel fronds (or celery leaves).


  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Finish with Step 2 just before serving.


Per cup: 252 calories; 11 g fat (2 g sat, 7 g mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 22 g protein; 5 g fiber; 462 mg sodium; 950 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (123% daily value), Vitamin A & Zinc (39% dv), Potassium (27% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1