Carotenoid absorption in humans consuming tomato sauces obtained from tangerine or high-β-carotene varieties of tomatoes

Nuray Z. Unlu, Torsten Bohn, David Francis, Steven K. Clinton, Steven J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Tomato sauces were produced from unique tomato varieties to study carotenoid absorption in humans. Tangerine tomatoes, high in c/s-lycopene, especially prolycopene (7Z,9Z,7 Z,9 Z), and high-β-carotene tomatoes as an alternative dietary source of β-carotene were grown and processed. Sauces were served after 2 week washout periods and overnight fasting for breakfast to healthy subjects (n = 12, 6M/6F) in a randomized crossover design. The serving size was 150 g (containing 15 g of corn oil), tangerine sauce containing 13 mg of lycopene (97.0% as c/s-isomers) and high-β-carotene sauce containing 17 mg of total β-carotene (1.6% as the 9-c/s-isomer) and 4 mg of lycopene. Blood samples were collected 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9.5 h following test meal consumption and carotenoids determined in the plasma triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein fraction by HPLC-electrochemical detection. Baseline-corrected areas under the concentration vs time curves (AUC) were used as a measure of absorption. AUC 0-9.5h values for total lycopene in the tangerine sauce group were 870 ± 187 (nmol· h)/L (mean ± SEM) with >99% as c/s-isomers (59% as the tetra-c/s-isomer). The AUC 0.95h values for total β-carotene and lycopene after consumption of the high-β-carotene sauce were 304 ± 54 (4% as 9-c/s-carotene) and 118 ± 24 (nmol·h)/L, respectively. Lycopene dose-adjusted triacylglycerolrich lipoprotein AUC responses in the tangerine sauce group were relatively high when compared to those in the literature and the high-β-carotene group. The results support the hypothesis that lycopene c/s-isomers are highly bioavailable and suggest that special tomato varieties can be utilized to increase both the intake and bioavailability of health-beneficial carotenoids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1597-1603
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrochemical detection
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Postprandial absorption
  • Tangerine and high-β-carotene tomatoes
  • β-carotene


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