Tomatoes: Summer’s unexpected bone builder

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.

istockphoto_5591923-tomato-wallpaper-2What 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.

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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