Lycopene is a red carotenoid pigment that occurs in many red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is found in red carrots, watermelons, tomatoes and papayas. The most common source of lycopene in modern diets is tomatoes.
In plants, lycopene is involved in the photosynthesis process. It protects plants from excessive light damage and helps in the biosynthesis of key carotenoids, like beta-carotene and xanthophylls. Most dietary lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products, like sauces or juices (which contain more concentrated levels of lycopene). Lycopene is a phytochemical which have been shown to have potent antioxidant properties in humans.
Studies show that lycopene has many health benefits. Perhaps the most widely reported health benefit is it's prostate cancer-fighting properties. However, as an antioxidant, lycopene has multiple benefits including reduced risk of many other cancers (lung and colon top the list) as well as reduced risk of heart disease.