Lycopene is a naturally occurring red pigment found in certain fruits and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, but also in watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and guava. It is a carotenoid, which is a type of antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Lycopene has been the subject of numerous studies investigating its potential health benefits. Research suggests that it may help reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. It has also been linked to improved skin health and a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.
To obtain lycopene through your diet, it is recommended to consume lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables, either raw or cooked. Cooking or processing foods containing lycopene, such as tomato sauce or tomato paste, can actually increase the bioavailability of lycopene, making it easier for the body to absorb and utilize.