Medical Definition of Lycopene

Lycopene: A red pigment found predominantly in tomatoes (and also in some other fruits) that gives them their color. Lycopene has antioxidant properties and has been claimed to "promote a healthy heart" and to reduce the risk of cancer. Lycopene has not, however, been proven to contribute to the anticancer properties of tomatoes. In fact, there is evidence that it is not lycopene but something else in tomatoes that is responsible. Numerous other potentially beneficial compounds are present in tomatoes. The lower risk of cancer associated with higher consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products supports current dietary recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016

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