Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading causes of human morbidity and mortality in developed countries. Specific biomarkers in this context are markers of inflammation, lipid status, thrombosis and oxidative stress. One recommendation for CVD prevention is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables as good sources of secondary plant products, e.g. carotenoids. This review aimed to show linkages between lycopene, one main carotenoid in the human diet, and prevention of heart diseases by looking for epidemiological data, results from in vitro experiments and results from in vivo studies (animal studies and human intervention trials). In addition, patents and products within the context of lycopene and CVD prevention will be discussed with a special emphasis on health claims. Epidemiological data, in vitro data and results from animal experiments partly showed promising preventive mechanisms of lycopene. In contrast, until now, human intervention studies mostly failed to show any CVD prevention. However, there is still an encouraging situation, giving hints for antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory effects of lycopene. These mechanisms could be the background for cardio-protective effects of tomatoes and tomato products. In summary, there are a lot of investigations needed in the future to give reliable results to establish these CVD-preventive effects.
© 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.