January 2013

Lycopene Consumption Linked to Lower Heart Disease Risk

A new study suggests that lycopene intake may be linked to a reduced risk for heart disease.

Lycopene is a carotenoid present in human serum and skin as well as the liver, adrenal glands, lungs, prostate and colon. Lycopene has been found to possess antioxidant and antiproliferative properties in animal and laboratory studies, although activity in humans remains controversial.

Humans obtain dietary lycopene primarily from tomatoes and tomato-based products. Lycopene is also found in apricots, pink grapefruit, guava, guava juice, rose hip puree, palm oil and watermelon

Numerous studies correlate high intake of lycopene-containing foods or high lycopene serum levels with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. However, estimates of lycopene consumption have been primarily based on reported tomato intake, not on the use of lycopene supplements. Since tomatoes are sources of other nutrients, including vitamin C, folate and potassium, it is not clear that lycopene itself is beneficial.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated data collected from the Framingham Offspring Study to assess the potential association between lycopene intake and heart disease risk.

Throughout 10 years, 314 cardiovascular disease cases, 171 coronary heart disease cases and 99 stroke cases were identified. The researchers found that lycopene intake was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. A link between lycopene intake and stroke risk was lacking.

Although promising, the authors noted that it is still unclear if lycopene or other nutrients in tomatoes may be the cause of this reduced risk. Further research is warranted.

For more information about lycopene, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

To comment on this story, please visit Natural Standard's blog.


  1. Jacques PF, Lyass A, Massaro JM, et al. Relationship of lycopene intake and consumption of tomato products to incident CVD. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jan 15:1-7. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.