5 Delicious Ways to Get More Lycopene Into Your Diet

Lycopene is a plant pigment that gives foods like tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon their red and pink colors. That's kind of cool. But what's even better is that lycopene is an antioxidant compound that can fight free-radical damage to the cells in your body and possibly help reduce your risk of certain diseases. 

Lycopene is part of the carotenoid family, which is a group of compounds related to vitamin A. Other important carotenoids includes alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Various studies have suggested that eating a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related eye disorders such as macular degeneration. But these studies are based on observation and not clinical trials. So it's possible that something other than the lycopene is the cause of the benefits. Foods that are high in lycopene also tend to be high in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. 

Because lycopene-rich foods also have many other important nutrients, it's important to get your lycopene from whole foods rather than pills.


Spaghetti Sauce

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Fresh foods are generally better for your health. But, when it comes to lycopene, you're better off with processed foods — it's actually absorbed better from cooked or processed tomatoes.

Spaghetti sauce (or any red sauce made from tomatoes) is rich in lycopene and other vitamins and minerals. Try making homemade spaghetti sauce or look for brands that are low in sodium, like Eden Organic Spaghetti Sauce. Make it a nutritious meal by serving on whole grain pasta with a garden salad on the side. 


Tomato Juice

Tomato juice

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Drinking tomato juice as a beverage is another delicious way to get lycopene. One cup of tomato juice has lycopene, is low in calories and also has plenty of vitamin A and vitamin C. Look for brands like R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie Juice — it's organic and lower in sodium than other grocery store brands. Add a dash or two of red pepper sauce for a little extra zing.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Take a watermelon and cut it into several pieces. You'll get a bit of lycopene in every bite. Watermelon is also a delicious source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Plus it's low in calories. Watermelon can be served all alone or for a wonderful salad.



Salsa and Chips
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Using salsa as a dip or a topping is another great way to get plenty of lycopene. Make your own salsa or buy a nutritious ready-to-serve salsa like Muir Glen Organic Salsa. It's such a versatile food—salsa is a natural with baked tortilla chips, but it also tastes great with eggs, or on top of potatoes.


Pink Grapefruit or Pink Grapefruit Juice


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Pink grapefruit doesn't have as much lycopene as the other foods above, but it's low in calories and is also a tasty source of vitamins A and C. You can also enjoy pink grapefruit juice to get some lycopene in your diet. Just watch out for any added sugar. 

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