Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and pink grapefruit. Like the better-known supplement beta-carotene, lycopene belongs to the family of chemicals known as carotenoids. As an antioxidant, it is about twice as powerful as beta-carotene.

Lycopene is not a necessary nutrient. However, like other substances found in fruits and vegetables, it may be very important for optimal health.

Tomatoes are the best source of lycopene. Happily, cooking doesn't destroy lycopene, so pizza sauce is just as good as a fresh tomato. In fact, some studies indicate that cooking tomatoes in oil may provide lycopene in a way that the body can use better,1,2although not all studies agree.3Lycopene is also found in watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit. Synthetic lycopene is also available and appears to be as well absorbed as natural-source lycopene.30