Meet Our Experts
Cleveland Clinic, ranked as one of the nation’s best hospitals overall (4th in the country) by U.S. News & World Report 2013-14, is proud to offer expert advice and guidance to help you on your journey to wellness.
Prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
0 (Effectiveness Unclear)
- Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, is the red pigment responsible for much of the color seen in tomatoes, watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. The higher your blood lycopene levels, the better your arterial health and the lower your chances of coronary artery disease and plaque formation.
- Men with the lowest levels of lycopene were 3 times more likely to experience stroke or heart attack than men with higher levels.
- If your diet contains low quantities of lycopene from red fruits and veggies, a lycopene supplement may be an easy addition.
- High concentrations of lycopene in cooked tomato products have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects to help prevent the oxidation and inflammation that lead to so many chronic diseases.
- It is unclear whether the lycopene itself contributed most to the benefits seen. Whole foods contain many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that probably work together to provide additional health benefits.
- No clinical studies have tested the effects of actual lycopene supplements on rates of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, the proposed beneficial use of a lycopene supplement for these conditions is completely theoretical.
- Long term risks and benefits of the lycopene supplement are unknown. It is best to consume lycopene from whole foods.
- Future studies are needed.
* *ADVISORY* *
Lycopene affects platelet function (cells that promote blood clotting). If this is a possible concern to you, please discuss its use with your healthcare provider.
DOSAGE:No standard dose has been identified or associated with consistent clinical outcomes. We suggest dosing as directed on the label and taking lycopene with your largest meal of the day to aid absorption.
CONCLUSION:We conclude that while lycopene shows strong promise for the prevention of atherosclerosis and as an antioxidant, there is not enough evidence for us to support its use for these indications. While it may promote vascular health, the best sources are whole foods, including cooked tomatoes, red fruits, and vegetables. If you elect to try it, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.
“Lycopene.” ConsumerLab.com. ConsumerLab.com LLC, 2013. 11 January 2013
“Lycopene.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Lycopene.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
McQuillan, B.M. et al. Antioxident Vitamins and the Risk of Carotid Atherosclerosis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2001) 38(7):1788-94
Gianetti, J. et al. Inverse association between carotid intima-media thickness and the antioxidant lycopene in atherosclerosis. American Heart Journal(2002) 143:467-74
Rissanen, T. et al. Low serum lycopene concentration is associated with an excess incidence of acute coronary events and stroke: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. British Journal of Nutrition (2001) 85, 749-754
Rissanen, T. et al. Lycopene, Atherosclerosis, and Coronary Heart Disease. Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine(2002) 227, 901-907
Van Breemen, R., Pajkovic, N. et al Multitargeted therapy of cancer by lycopene. Cancer Letters (2008) 269, 339-351
Lycopene. EBSCO Publishing (2008) 1-5
Mikhak, B. et al. Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) gene polymorphism, interactions with carotenoid levels and prostate cancer risk. Carcinogenesis(2008) 29(12): 2335-2340
Rissanen, T. et al. Serum lycopene concentrations and carotid atherosclerosis: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 77: 133-8