Lycopene belongs to a class of antioxidant compounds called carotenoids, and it is actually one of the major carotenoids consumed in western diets.
Highest concentrations of lycopene are found in tomatoes and tomato products. Lycopene is responsible for the deep red color of tomatoes, strawberries, and watermelon; however, the bioavailability of lycopene from different food items varies considerably.
The antioxidative properties of lycopene are well-documented. Many of the protective benefits of lycopene are due to its ability to protect against oxidative damage. Recent studies focusing on these protective characteristics have found a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer with an increased lycopene intake. Studies suggest that higher blood lycopene levels may be associated with reduced incidence of prostate, digestive tract, breast, lung, and cervical cancer.