Lycopene rich foods may have the ability to prevent central nervous system disease. This carotenoid found in tomato products may be the secret to preventing disease like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Learn more about what science has to say about lycopene rich foods and preventing disease.

It has been proven many times that lycopene (a carotenoid found in tomatoes) is an amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce disease such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, prostate disease, and type 2 diabetes. However, it is lesser known that lycopene may also have neuroprotective effects in the central nervous system [1]. 

Studies have found that lycopene can reduce oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, neural apoptosis, and to restore function of the mitochondria. Lycopene has shown that is has neuroprotective effects, and while evidence has found lycopene supplementation can improve cognitive performance, further research may be able to prove the positive effects on the central nervous system [1]. This would allow lycopene and foods that contain lycopene to be used to prevent or treat disorders of the central nervous system. However, one drawback to using foods that contain lycopene to treat these diseases and disorders is the low bioavailability of lycopene. In some foods it may be too low to raise the level within brain tissue. However, higher concentrations of lycopene (like in a supplement) have been shown to have toxic effects [1].

Canned tomato products could possibly play a role in the treatment of central nervous system diseases and disorders. While some foods may not contain adequate levels of lycopene and would not be effective as a treatment, canned tomatoes have increased bioavailability of lycopene due to heating during processing. While further studies need to be done to prove that canned tomato products could be used in this way, it is a possibility. At the very least, we know that canned tomato products are an excellent addition to the diet and have already been proven to prevent many other diseases.

Learn more about the benefits of lycopene with these resources:

Lycopene and Canned Tomatoes May Help with Cancer Prevention
Health Connection Between Tomatoes and Lycopene
What is Lycopene?


  1. Chen, D., Huang, C., & Chen, Z. (2019). A review for the pharmacological effect of lycopene in central nervous system disorders.Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy,111, 791–801. 


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