You Say Tomato, I Say Tomaato…

Tomato lifting dumbells with waist tapeNo matter how you say it, tomato juice may help you avoid osteoporosis, a condition resulting from loss of bone mass that occurs as we age. The star of the show is lycopene, a carotenoid (same family as alpha- and beta-carotene) that gives tomatoes and some other fruits their red color. The mechanism of action is believed to be the antioxidant properties of lycopene that neutralize free radicals that can cause bone loss. The most recent study was done with post-menopausal women 50-60 years of age. Drinking just two glasses of tomato juice or taking two 15-milligram lycopene supplements daily provided the benefits within a four-month period. (And men, there’s evidence that lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer as well!)

Lycopene from tomatoes is best absorbed after it has been heat-processed. Products such as tomato pastes and juices, for example, are heated during processing and would be great ways to consume tomatoes and reap maximal health benefits. See the table below for other good sources of lycopene.

(Source: Osteoporosis International, 2011)tomato showering with soap

 

Dietary Sources for Lycopene

Food

Measure

Lycopene (mg)

Watermelon

1/2   cup

3.3

Guava

1

4.9

Pink Grapefruit

1

8.0

Tomato, raw

½   cup

8.3

Vegetable Juice   Cocktail

1/2   cup

11.7

Tomato juice

1/2   cup

13.2

Tomato paste

2   tbsp.

18.2

Spaghetti/marinara sauce

½   cup

20.0

Tomato puree

1/2   cup

20.8

Tomato sauce

½   cup

21.

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