archive image

European Commission

Food Quality and Safety in Europe banner

Food Quality and Safety in Europe



It is perhaps ironic that the tomato, coming from a genus that contains both the eggplant and potato, also puts forth a host of poisonous plants. Ironic, because recent research has identified that lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomato its red pigmentation, may very well provide a means to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease as well as cancer.

Investigating the role of lycopene, therefore, and how it actually affects human health became a primary focal point for a consortium of dietary specialists, researchers, patient organisations and food companies. It is their intention to bring their findings to bear directly on the development of food and or food supplements that are crimson bright with benefits.


It is not surprising that with the growing emphasis on natural remedies gaining more ground with consumers and health specialists, investigating the chemical contribution of foods in reducing cardiovascular disease has become a priority objective.

The LYCOCARD consortium is conducting an intensive study into the biochemical and physiological interactions of the compound involved with food consumption. This is a little understood process and the complexities involved require a critical mass of highly complementary European experts to analyse lycopene bio-availability; oxidative catabolism of lycopene; physiologically relevant isomers and metabolites; modulation of endothelial functions and effects of lycopene and its derivatives on cell signalling pathways. Research results will, therefore, advance significantly beyond simple correlations between particular foods and health benefits.

Better understanding of the genetic, molecular, biochemical and physiological functions of lycopene and related compounds in protecting against cardiovascular diseases will offer detailed knowledge of the protective effects of fruit and vegetables, especially tomatoes and tomato products.


Thanks to these research results, the food industry is able to engineer healthy new tomato-based products on scientific evidence attesting to their higher protective impact on cardiovascular health. Three studies using healthy human subjects enable inferences about the whole population. The effect of lycopene - or tomato products - on parameters involved in cardiovascular diseases, is assessed. The results are being documented as guidelines for primary prevention by two patient organisations from the LYCOCARD project.

These consumer-designed, novel dietary guidelines aimed at preventing and minimising disease risk facilitate diet selection. LYCOCARD research and development results helps to improve the health of European consumers and reduce health system costs. In addition, the position of the European food industry - and more particularly SMEs - is strengthened by the increasing demand for tomato products.

Perhaps, with the progression of the research being carried out by the LYCOCARD consortium, the tomato will become a far more prominent item on shopping lists around the world. With the advent of the proposed 'new foods' that will sprout from their fertile research results, dieting will not be so much a matter of abstinence, as a matter of eating the right foods.

List of Partners

  • Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität (Germany)
  • Medizinische Klinik für Kardiologie, Angiologie, Pneumologie (Germany)
  • UMR INRA-UAPV A408, Sécurité et qualité des produits d'origine végétale, INRA Domaine Saint Paul (France)
  • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical and Health Science Centre (Hungary)
  • School of Biomedical Science and Biochemistry, Liverpool John Moores University (UK)
  • Department of Food Technology, Nutrition and Food Science, University of Murcia (Spain)
  • UMR 476 INSERM/1260 INRA, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille (France)
  • Institute of General Pathology, Catholic University Rome (Italy)
  • Institute of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Catholic University Rome (Italy)
  • Deutsche Herzstiftung Frankfurt (Germany)
  • Juver Alimentación Murcia (Spain)
  • AMITOM, Avignon (France)
  • AGRAZ, Villafranco del Guadiana, Badajoz (Spain)
  • Conservas Vegetales de Extremadura, Villafranco del Guadiana, (Spain)
  • Caledonian Science Press, Barcelona (Spain)
Full title:
Role of lycopene for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Volker Böhm, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena,
EC Scientific Officer:
Isabelle de Froidmont-Görtz,
EU contribution:
€ 5.2M
Integrated project

Back to list

Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top