- Lycopene is an open-chain unsaturated carotenoid that imparts red colour to tomatoes, guava, rosehip, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
- Lycopene is the most potent antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which may damage
the body's cells.
- Lycopene is associated with reduced risk of macular degenerative disease, serum lipid oxidation
and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix and skin.
Health Benefits of Lycopene
All Carotenoids by nature of their antioxidant properties, are highly associated with health benefits in humans.
Among all the carotenoids Lycopene has been shown to be the most potent antioxidant produced by carotenoid pathway (Di Mascio et al 1989).
- Carotenoids are a class of natural fat-soluble pigments found principally in plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, where they play a critical role in the photosynthetic process.
- The majority carotenoids are derived from a 40-carbon polyene chain, which could be considered the backbone of the molecule.
- Lycopene, the hydrocarbon carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, is particularly effective at quenching the destructive potential of singlet oxygen (Di Mascio et al. 1989).
- Its strong color and non-toxicity, lycopene is a useful food coloring.
STRUCTURAL AND PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
Lycopene Physical Properties
- Lycopene is a symmetrical tetraterpene assembled from 8 isoprene units.
- Molecule is long and straight, constrained by its system of eleven conjugated double bonds.
- Lycopene absorbs all but the longest wavelengths of visible light, so it appears red Britton, G. (1995)
- Plants and photosynthetic bacteria naturally produce all-trans (Britton et al., 1995) When exposed to light or heat, lycopene can undergo isomerization to any of a number of these cis-isomers
- Different isomeres were shown to have different stabilities due to their molecular energy (highest stability: 5-cis ≥ all-trans ≥ 9-cis ≥ 13-cis > 15-cis > 7-cis > 11-cis: lowest) (Di Mascio et al., 1989)
- In the human bloodstream, various cis-isomers constitute more than 60% of the total lycopene concentration, but the biological effects of individual isomers have not been investigated (Di Mascio et al., 1991)
- It is a non-polar molecule, insoluble in water
|Maximum absorption (nm)
||471 to 501
||Extremely sensitive to oxidation
Consumption of lycopene via tomatoes reduces
- Treating cancer
- Heart disease
- Infertility in men
- Prevention of smoke related diseases
- Preventing the formation of free radicals by limiting oxidative stress.
- Ongoing preliminary research suggests that lycopene is associated with reduced risk of macular degenerative disease, serum lipid oxidation and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix and skin.
- Studies are underway to investigate other potential benefits of lycopene - including the H.J. Heinz Company sponsored research at the University of Toronto and at the American Health Foundation. These studies will focus on lycopene's possible role in the fight against cancers of the digestive tract, breast and prostate cancer.
- Digestive tract cancer.
- Colon cancer (Siattery et al 2000).
- Prostate cancer (Giovanucci et al 1995).
- The size and malignancy of Prostate tumors (American Assoc for Cancer Research 1999).
- Lung cancer (Michaud et al 2000, De Stefeni et al ., 1999).
- Smoke induced emphysema (2006).