Carotenoids, found in fruits and vegetables (particularly lycopene), may protect older men and women against bone loss, according to a study by Tufts University, Boston University and Hebrew SeniorLife. They surmise this is because of the antioxidants in carotenoids that protect the skeleton by reducing oxidative stress, which then inhibits bone breakdown.
More than 600 types of carotenoids exist, which are pigments giving produce its red, orange and yellow colors. Since carotenoids are fat-soluble, it’s best to eat them with a little fat to aid absorption. So whenever you choose a dressing for your salad, be sure it has a little fat in it. Fortunately most salad dressings are comprised of fat that is not saturated or trans, which are the bad ones.
Good sources of the carotenoid lycopene: tomatoes (cooked, such as tomato sauce, provides the most bioavailable form), guava, watermelon, sweet peppers and grapefruit). Cooking releases the lycopene in tomatoes so that it can be better absorbed. Lycopene from tomato paste is four times more bioavailable than from fresh tomatoes. Also, since lycopene is fat-soluble, eating lycopene-rich foods along with a bit of fat will greatly increase absorption (e.g. spaghetti and meatballs or bread dipped in oil with your tomato dish). So if you are looking to up your stores through tomato products, make your next dinner outing Italian, and order up a dish with plenty of marinara sauce!