Osteoporosis patients could prevent bone loss and strengthen their bones by drinking two glasses of tomato juice each day. A University of Toronto research team has uncovered the beneficial affect of tomato compounds on the health of the bones.
The findings reported in the journal Osteoporosis International, suggest that the plant compound lycopene present in tomatoes are beneficial for the bones.
Sixty postmenopausal women, between 50 and 60 years of age, participated in the pilot study. None of the participants in the study smoked or took medications that affected bone metabolism or had antioxidant properties. During the study period, the participants were asked to avoid antioxidant vitamins and lycopene rich fruits such as watermelon and grapefruit.
Before the study began, the participants were asked to avoid all foods containing lycopene including all tomato products for a month. At the beginning of the study, the participants had high levels of N-telopeptide in the blood. N-telopeptide is a chemical produced during depletion of bone cells.
Researchers randomly divided the participants into four groups. One group was asked to take 15mg of regular tomato juice daily. The second group was asked to include 35mg of lycopene-enriched tomato juice in the daily diet. The third group took lycopene supplement and the fourth group was given placebo pills.
At the end of the four-month long study period, researchers observed that the N-telopeptide level has significantly dropped in the blood of subjects who consumed tomato juice and lycopene supplement.
Moreover, they had higher levels of beta-carotene in the blood. Beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant compound, is produced during metabolism of lycopene. The researchers have also noted that the standard tomato juices are as effective as the lycopene-enriched tomato juices. The study showed that the body could not absorb excess lycopene present in supplements.
Researchers concluded that the affect of lycopene on bone health is comparable to the affect of calcium and vitamin D supplements that are usually recommended for arresting osteoporosis. The mineral density of the bone might be improved by drinking two glasses of tomato juice daily.
However, further studies are needed to discover the long-term affect of lycopene on the bone health.