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Lycopene is the pigment that makes certain fruits and vegetables red, such as tomatoes, watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit.
Lycopene is not produced by the body, so you can only obtain its benefits through eating lycopene rich foods. Tomato based products are particularly good sources.
Products such as tomato rich pasta sauces, tomato based soups, tomato juice, tomato sauce and tomato paste are common sources of lycopene in the diet. Fruits such as watermelon and pink grapefruit contain lycopene in smaller amounts. Heat processing increases the bioavailability of the lycopene up to 2.5 times. Lycopene is a fat soluble nutrient so cooking tomatoes with a little oil helps to increase lycopene absorption by the body.
The nutritional benefits of lycopene can be achieved by drinking as little as 540ml (approx two glasses) of tomato juice each day. The table below shows other ways to include high levels of lycopene in the diet using tomato-based products.
|Serving Size||Lycopene1 |
|Tomato Juice||9.5||250 mL (1 cup)||23.8|
|Spaghetti Sauce||21.9||125 mL (½ cup)||28.1|
|Tomato Paste||42.2||30 mL (2 tbsp.)||13.8|
|Tomato Soup (Condensed)||7.2||250 mL (prepared)||9.7|
|Chilli Sauce||9.5||30 mL (2 tbsp.)||6.7|
|Tomato Sauce||15.9||15 mL (1 tbsp.)||2.7|
|Pink Grapefruit||4.0||½ grapefruit||4.9|
|Watermelon||4.0||1 slice (medium)||4.7|
|Raw Tomato||3.0||1 medium||3.7|
1 Heinz media release, 5 July, 2001