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June 2024
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Lycopene for a Healthy and Beautiful Skin

Consumption of lycopene through tomato paste showed evidence of protecting the skin from excessive reddening caused by exposure to UV rays.

A collaborative study conducted by Newcastle University, the University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, revealed that consumption of foods containing Lycopene reduces the reddening of the skin after long hours of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Tomatoes are the richest known sources of lycopene and heat-treated tomato paste has more lycopene content than fresh raw tomatoes. A small serving of tomato paste contains approximately 16 milligrams of lycopene. Skin reddening brought about by extended exposure to UV rays is caused by the damage to mitochondrial DNA. Sufficient servings of tomato paste on a daily basis protect mitochondrial DNA from damage, thereby reducing skin reddening and keeping the skin healthy. This study was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

The study on the dermatological benefits of lycopene supports previous findings regarding its protective properties against UV rays and tissue damage. However, the research has only produced preliminary evidence and further research is still needed. Lycopene is also a known antioxidant and the substance has also shown medical evidence for lowering the risk of developing prostate, skin and heart diseases. It is also essential in keeping the bones healthy. While lycopene has been known to be derived naturally from tomatoes, it can also be produced synthetically. As an additional treat, lycopene is also being used in cosmetic and beauty products, and in food supplements.

The lycopene study consisted of twenty healthy female participants with an average age of 33. Their skin type was identified as phototype I/II. They were asked randomly to take 55 grams of olive oil or tomato paste in olive oil for a period of 12 weeks. Skin samples from the 17 women who completed the study showed that lycopene had improved the skin’s resistance to UV rays. The researchers said that the benefits of lycopene can also be acquired by eating foods containing processed tomatoes in equivalent dosage.

Understanding Lycopene

Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid and carotene pigment found in red fruits and vegetables especially tomatoes, except for cherries and strawberries. Other known sources are red carrots, papayas, watermelons. Lycopene in plants, and in other organisms that require the process of photosynthesis in making food, serve as an important substance in biosynthesizing carotenoids to give the plant its pigmentation. In humans, lycopene is not an essential nutrient but it is commonly found in the usual diet. The richest source of lycopene is processed and heat-treated tomato products like tomato paste and tomato ketchup. Preliminary evidence from several studies regarding lycopene’s antioxidant properties has made it one of the candidates as a potential agent in the prevention of cancer.

Sources of Lycopene

Lycopene in food supplements and beauty products is usually extracted from tomatoes but the substance can also be synthesized. Amongst the richest natural source of lycopene are pink guava, wolfberry, seabuckthorn, red bell pepper, gac, papaya and of course, tomatoes. Raw tomatoes contain 9 micrograms of lycopene per 42 grams or weight. Some species of tomatoes can have higher lycopene content than others and it rises as the fruit begins to ripen. Gac is known to have the highest content of lycopene with up to 70 times more than tomatoes, but gac is rarely found outside the regions of Southeast Asia.

Antioxidant Properties of Lycopene

Singlet oxygen is produced during a person’s exposure to UV rays and it is the primary cause of skin aging. Carotenoid quenchers are needed to counteract the adverse effects of singlet oxygen to the body. In studies, lycopene has 125 times more the quenching power than glutathione and 100 times more than vitamin. This makes it one of the most potent antioxidants and also one of the most effective substances against skin aging from a natural source.

Health Benefits of Lycopene

Lycopene is continuously being studied for its efficacy in the prevention of several types of cancer. Studies have shown significant evidence of lycopene’s protective properties against lung cancer, prostate cancer and cancer of the stomach. But results and findings remain preliminary and inconclusive, and further research is required to really determine the efficacy of lycopene as an anti-cancer agent.


Though no concrete evidence has been established regarding this matter, lycopene had shown indication from scientific studies of being potent in preventing asthma caused by exercise and heightened physical exertion. This is rooted mainly on lycopene’s antioxidant properties.

Cancer Prevention

Studies done in animals to determine the relationship of developing cancer and regular consumption of lycopene from tomatoes showed indications of reduced risk. But like any other studies regarding lycopene, results are still inconclusive and preliminary. Nevertheless, population and epidemiologic studies on the dietary habits and lifestyle of large populations showed lower risk of developing cancer for people with sufficient fruits and vegetable consumption and adequate exercise than the portion of the population with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s not clear whether lycopene is contributory to the effect, but studies are continuously investigating the matter. Despite all the uncertainties, getting sufficient dosage of lycopene from tomatoes and processed tomato products will not harm you either.

Lycopene for Healthy Skin

Lycopene can be used as a sunscreen and antioxidant in one. Once in the body, lycopene deters skin aging by destroying free radicals and protects the skin from the inside against damage caused by the UV rays of the sun. Lycopene supplements and lycopene skin care products like lycopene lotion with relatively efficient SPF levels are crowding the market. The lycopene content of these products may come from natural sources or they may have been synthesized artificially. But if you want it the natural way and not from a tube, there will always be the ketchup in the cupboard.

Side-effects of Lycopene

Anything taken in excessive dosage can have harmful effects to the body. Though lycopene is a non-toxic substance commonly found in the usual diet, excess in carotenoid intake may produce colorful side-effects – in the literal sense. Reports of excessive lycopene intake include the case of a woman who experienced skin discoloration called lycopenodermia after excessive and prolonged consumption of tomato products and tomato juice. Her blood had high levels of lycopene and her liver and skin had a yellow to orange color. The woman was advised to have a lycopene-free diet and after three weeks her skin regained its normal color.


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  5. The Nutrition Decision: Organic or Conventional?

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