Objective: We compared the effect of two diets (a diet high in olive oil and a diet high in carbohydrate and low in olive oil) with high lycopene content and other controlled carotenoids on serum lycopene, lipids, and in vitro oxidation.
Methods: This was a randomized crossover dietary intervention study carried out in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia in healthy free-living individuals. Twenty-one healthy subjects who were 22 to 70 y old were recruited by advertisements in newspapers and a university newsletter. A randomized dietary intervention was done with two diets of 10 d each. One diet was high in olive oil and the other was high in carbohydrate and low in olive oil; the two diets contained the same basic foods and a controlled carotenoid content high in lycopene.
Results: Significant increases (P<0.001) in serum lycopene concentration on both diets were to similar final concentrations. Higher serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P<0.01), lower ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (P<0.01), and lower triacylglycerols (P<0.05) occurred after the olive oil diet compared with the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. There was no difference in total antioxidant status and susceptibility of serum lipids to oxidation.
Conclusions: Serum lycopene level changes with dietary lycopene intake irrespective of the amount of fat intake. However, a diet high in olive oil and rich in lycopene may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by improving the serum lipid profile compared with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, lycopene-rich diet.