What Is trans-Lycopene?

Three yellow egg yolks in a bowl
Egg yolk contain trans-lycopene

Trans-Lycopene is the trans-isomer of the highly beneficial nutrient Lycopene, renowned for its powerful antioxidant properties.

Lycopene is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment found in plants and photosynthetic bacteria. It belongs to the non-provitamin A family and is part of the broader category of isoprenoids—a naturally occurring, non-toxic carotenoid.

This remarkable compound has shown efficacy in cancer treatments and is currently undergoing evaluation in several clinical trials.

Table of Contents

Understanding trans-Lycopene and Isomerization

Isomers are compounds that share the same chemical formulas but have different structures. When it comes to lycopene, a "cis-isomer" means that functional groups are on the same side of the carbon chain, while a "trans-isomer" indicates that these functional groups are on opposite sides of the carbon chain. (source )

In simple terms, it's about how lycopene's parts are arranged – either on the same side or on different sides of the molecule.

Lycopene: The Red Pigment

Lycopene is a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment responsible for the vibrant colors found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and various foods. The all-trans configuration of lycopene is the most predominant isomer that imparts the characteristic red color to these foods. (source )

In red tomatoes, approximately 94–96% of total lycopene consists of all-trans-lycopene. However, trans-lycopene is poorly absorbed when ingested. (source )

Stability of Lycopene

Compared to compounds like beta-carotene, lycopene exhibits greater stability in the body, making it more effective in delivering its benefits.

trans-Lycopene in Tomatoes

Trans-Lycopene is one of the predominant carotenoids in tomatoes, known for its powerful antioxidant properties with anti-inflammatory and anticancer potential.

The heat processing of tomatoes can convert all-trans lycopene into various cis-isomers. Cis-lycopene isomers are considered more bioavailable due to their greater solubility and absorption compared to the all-trans isomers. (source )

Numerous studies have demonstrated that lycopene from processed tomato products is more bioavailable than that from fresh tomatoes. (source )

Foods Containing trans-Lycopene

In addition to tomatoes, you can find trans-Lycopene in other foods such as dairy and egg products. Examples of food sources include:

Foods in Our Nutrition Tool

For a comprehensive list of foods containing trans-Lycopene and other essential nutrients, explore our nutrition tool.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.