Dietary guidelines around the world recommend increased consumption of plant foods to combat chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and osteoporosis. These plant foods (fruits, vegetables, cereals, and legumes) contain many beneficial phytochemicals. Oxidative stress, caused by the production of highly reactive oxygen species (ROS), has received a great deal of interest in recent years. Antioxidants, including lycopene, by virtue of their ability to interact with ROS, can mitigate their damaging effect and play a significant role in the prevention of chronic diseases. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the beneficial effects of these phytochemicals in human health. In this article, we focus on lycopene and its role in human health. We also discuss its chemical properties, the dietary sources of lycopene, its bioavailability, and the mechanisms of action in disease prevention.
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