Tomato’s red pigment, called lycopene, is an antioxidant that has been studied extensively for its cancer prevention properties. Eaten in high quantities, tomatoes can lower the risk of prostate, stomach, colon, and rectal cancer. Lycopene also inhibits the development of cancer cells in the breasts, lungs, and uterus. A rich source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, tomatoes are also known to reduce heart disease and prevent cataracts. Not bad for a fruit regarded as deadly in some parts of the world as recently as the early 1800s. Some people with arthritis and other autoimmune disease symptoms may be aggravated by eating tomatoes.
Lycopene Food Sources
The best sources of lycopene are tomatoes and tomato products, which is where about 80 percent of lycopene in the average American diet comes from.1 Small amounts can also be found in guava, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.1 Table 1 shows the estimated lycopene content of some foods.
Product Serving Size Lycopene (mg/serving)