Lycopene is a naturally occurring chemical which gives fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelons their red colour, and it is one of the the most potent antioxidants among dietary carotenoids.
In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, each day 60 males either took a lycopene supplement equivalent to two tablespoons of concentrated tomato puree or a placebo. At the end of 12 weeks tests showed that the males who took the supplement had improved sperm mobility, size and shape.
"We didn't really expect that at the end of the study there would be any difference in the sperm from men who took the tablet versus those who took the placebo. When we decoded the results, I nearly fell off my chair," said Professor Pacey, a world expert in male reproduction.
"This was a small study and we do need to repeat the work in bigger trials, but the results are very encouraging," study author Dr Williams said.
Despite the impressive findings, previous research has pointed out that a big bowl of tomato soup isn't interchangeable with a concentrated supplement. However, the health benefits of tomatoes are wide ranging so it certainly won't hurt to slice a few for your next sanga.