Lycopene Content of Tomato Products: Its Stability, Bioavailability and In Vivo Antioxidant Properties

J Med Food. Spring 2001;4(1):9-15. doi: 10.1089/10966200152053668.


Lycopene is a bioactive carotenoid present in many fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes constitute the major dietary source of lycopene. Recent evidence shows lycopene to be associated with several health benefits. However, very little information is available about the stability of lycopene and its bioavailability. Because tomatoes undergo extensive processing and storage before consumption, a study was conducted to evaluate the stability, isomeric form, bioavailability, and in vivo antioxidant properties of lycopene. Total lycopene and isomers were measured by spectrophotometry and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Lycopene content of tomatoes remained unchanged during the multistep processing operations for the production of juice or paste and remained stable for up to 12 months of storage at ambient temperature. Moreover, subjecting tomato juice to cooking temperatures in the presence of corn oil resulted in the formation of the cis isomeric form, which was considered to be more bioavailable. Lycopene was absorbed readily from the dietary sources. Serum lipid and low-density lipoprotein oxidation were significantly reduced after the consumption of tomato products containing lycopene.