Lycopene, a powerful carotenoid found mostly in many red and orange hued fruits and vegetables, is a great way to ward off cancers and boost overall health.(1,2) An increasing amount of studies have noted its ability to help slow cancer growth, particular when it comes to prostate cancer, many times leading to cell apoptosis (cell death).(1)
However, the benefits of eating lycopene-rich foods involve more than potential cancer prevention.
In fact, foods rich in the carotenoid have been linked to improving cardiovascular health as well as vision.(2) Other findings have associated lycopene intake with reduced risk of neurological disease, obesity, and osteoporosis.(3)
Typically, tomatoes are the first food that comes to mind when seeking out a lycopene-rich food source, and for good reason. They’re high in lycopene, and consumption of them (particularly with their skins on) increases the body’s ability to fight cancers such as prostate, lung, breast and pancreatic.(3)
Other foods beyond tomatoes are also very good sources of lycopene.
Lycopene-rich foods beyond the tomato
Helping heart and prostate health is a watermelon slice away. Just one 1-inch wedge is said to have about as much lycopene as four medium-sized tomatoes.(4) Blending into smoothies, eating directly from the slice and even grilling them are all ways watermelon can be enjoyed.
Grapefruit, red cabbage and carrots are also ideal sources of lycopene, so it’s suggested to top salads with them and enjoy regularly.(2) In fact, pink grapefruit typically has about the same amount of lycopene as what’s found in a fresh tomato.(5)
Surprisingly, because their color is not the typical color associated with lycopene-rich foods, asparagus and parsley also contain the beneficial antioxidant.(2)
The Mayo Clinic, while it stresses that more research in all areas should be conducted to better assess the link between lycopene and improved health, says that there are findings that have shown ties between lycopene consumption and cancer-fighting abilities, reduced sun damage risk, diminished asthma symptoms and much more.(6)
Incorporating more of these healthy foods is always a good choice, but knowing the boost that their lycopene provides is yet another reason to enjoy everything from tomatoes to red cabbage even more than usual.
Sources for this article include: