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.
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 hear this question a lot, “But aren’t tomatoes 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.