It’s tomato season! The brilliantly-colored summer treats common in all our gardens are major players in one of today’s leading-edge research topics in osteoporosis: how oxidative damage causes the inflammation which leads to bone breakdown.
What makes tomatoes so interesting to the scientists studying the effects of oxidative damage? Tomatoes are particularly highly in a bone-protective antioxidant known as lycopene. It has long been noted that people who consume more tomatoes, tomato paste, sauces, juice, and tomato products of all sorts experience a lower fracture rate than those who consume less.
Last year, Canadian researchers conducted an intervention study using various amounts of lycopene extracted from tomatoes. They found that consumption of 30 mg of lycopene a day significantly reduced both oxidative damage and bone breakdown. While smaller amounts of lycopene were not tested in this study, other population diet studies report that daily intakes of just 12.64 mg lycopene are related to significantly lowered fracture risk. When you reduce bone breakdown, bone is preserved and fracture incidence is reduced. These very positive effects make it worth it to spend time gardening.
So how can you get from 12 to 30 milligrams of lycopene a day without taking extra supplements? It's really quite easy if you like tomatoes as I do. Bright red tomatoes — in sauces, soup, juices, or just plain sliced up on the plate—are loaded with lycopene!
Tomato products and lycopene content
Tomato product Serving Size Lycopene content
Tomato paste 1/4 cup 18.84 mg
Tomato puree, canned 1 cup 54.38 mg
Tomato sauce, canned 1 cup 34.25 mg
Pasta sauce, canned 1 cup 31.66 mg
Vegetable juice cocktail 1 cup 23.38 mg
Tomato juice 1 cup 21.91 mg
Tomato soup 1 cup 13.05 mg
Tomato, raw 1 whole 3.17 mg
Oh, and if you don't like tomatoes, enjoy watermelon, papaya, grapefruit — also good sources of lycopene.
Finally, I already hear this question a lot, “But aren’t tomatoes are acid-forming?” True, tomatoes are slightly acid-forming, but their benefits outweigh any small acid contribution, which can be easily buffered with our Alkaline for Life Diet®. Be well and enjoy the fruits of summer! Here's a recipe to get you started:
Bone-healthy salsa recipe
• 4 large tomatoes (or 6 plum tomatoes) chopped
• 1 small white onion, diced
• Juice from 1 lemon
• Handful of fresh cilantro
• Salt to taste
Mix together and serve (or add a chopped cucumber for a great summer tomato salad).
Sahni, S et al., Protective Effect of Total Carotenoid and Lycopene Intake On The Risk Of Hip Fracture: A 17 Year, Follow-Up From the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, JBMR, Vol. 24, No.6.2009:10861094.
Mackinnon, ES et al., Supplementation with the Antioxidant Lycopene Significantly Decreases Oxidative Stress Parameters In The Bone Resorption Marker N-telopeptide Of Type I Collagen In Postmenopausal Women. Osteoporosis international (2011) 22:1091-1101
US Dept. of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service. USDA National Nutrient Database For Standard Reference, Release 24, Lycopene.
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