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Tomato Juice Revelations

April 22, 2015 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Long time readers of this site know that I’m not a big fan of juicing. Sure, some juices are better than others i.e. those made from low glycemic, nutrient dense vegetables and small amounts of fruit. But, in most cases, they’re simply not as health promoting as eating the whole foods which are the starting points of the juices. What’s more, juices are often too high in naturally occurring sugar and deficient in dietary fiber which supports optimal blood sugar response. Still, it’s important not to paint virtually any food category with too broad a brush.

In the past, I’ve written several columns extolling the multitude of health benefits of tomato consumption. However, I’ve never expressly recommended tomato juice as a means of acquiring the nutrients and phytochemicals present in these red wellness makers. Much to my surprise, I recently came across a slew of studies that broadened my perspective on this issue. And, as the old saying advises, “One must follow the evidence wherever it leads”.

Of late, three of the most compelling tomato juice (TJ) trials have involved women. Each of the experiments required supplemental intake of between 280 ml – 400 ml tomato juice daily. That works out to roughly 9.5 to 13.5 ounces a day. One of the trials, documented in the April 2015 issue of Nutrition Journal, found that TJ increased resting energy expenditure and reduced anxiety, heart rate and menopausal symptoms in a group of middle-aged women. The May 2015 edition of Nutrition reveals that TJ significantly lowered body weight, cholesterol, inflammation and waist circumference in younger females. The third, female-centered experiment, examined the effects of tomato juice vs. placebo (water) in a group overweight students. After only 20 days, TJ use decreased oxidative stress in this at-risk population. This is important because excess weight is frequently associated with poor oxidative status, which in turn is linked to various health threats ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, the health effects conferred by TJ aren’t confined to females alone. A study from December 2014 found that men and women who drank tomato juice four times a week improved numerous markers relating to metabolic syndrome. Specifically, positive changes in endothelial function, inflammation, insulin sensitivity and lipid profile were noted.

Based on this new evidence, it seems that tomato juice may be a valuable addition to many dietary programs. But, let’s not stop there. Instead, let’s make tomato juice even healthier! For starters, if at all possible, buy or make organic tomato juice. At least two studies show that organic TJ contains higher levels of powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, rutin, total flavonoids and Vitamin C. Also, it’s very important to add some fat to tomato juice. The addition of extra virgin olive oil or avocado not only enhances the absorption of fat soluble nutrients and phytochemicals, but also bolsters the dietary protection that tomato juice imparts. In fact, the February 2015 issue of Food Chemistry reports that combining 10% olive oil with tomato juice dramatically increases lycopene bioavailability and decreases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol within 6 hours. So, go ahead and add about a tablespoon or more of extra virgin olive oil to your tomato juice or blend it with half an avocado into a powerhouse veggie shake. Cheers to your health and mine!

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Tomato Juice Intake Increases Resting Energy Expenditure and Improves (link)

Study 2 – Tomato Juice Supplementation in Young Women Reduces Inflammatory … (link)

Study 3 – Tomato Juice Consumption Improves Blood Antioxidative Biomarkers in(link)

Study 4 – Dietary Supplementation w/ Tomato-Juice in Patients w/ Metabolic (link)

Study 5 – Effect of a Special Carbohydrate-Protein Bar and Tomato Juice (link)

Study 6 – Influence of Olive Oil on Carotenoid Absorption from Tomato Juice and (link)

Study 7 – Tomato Sauce Making Process Affects the Bioaccessibility and (link)

Study 8 – Home Cooking and Phenolics: Effect of Thermal Treatment and Addition (link)

Study 9 – Seasonal Variation in Bioactive Compounds in Juice from Organic (link)

Study 10 – Impact of Organic Farming on Quality of Tomatoes is Associated to (link)

Avocado Increases Beta Carotene & Phytochemical Absorption

Source: J Nutr. 2014 Aug;144(8):1158-66. (link)

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Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Women's Health

15 Comments & Updates to “Tomato Juice Revelations”

  1. Pat Says:

    I just had an ‘ah ha!’ moment while reading this. I have several packages of tomatoes in the freezer from last year’s garden and I have a Vitamix, which purees even the skins. Organic and entirely whole tomatoes have got to make the best tomato juice!

  2. JP Says:

    Hi, Pat. I think that’s a great idea! Just remember to add a little extra virgin olive oil or avocado to the mix!

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 04/22/15:


    Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Apr;59(4):658-69.

    Enhanced bioavailability of lycopene when consumed as cis-isomers from tangerine compared to red tomato juice, a randomized, cross-over clinical trial.

    SCOPE: Tangerine tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are rich in tetra-cis-lycopene resulting from natural variation in carotenoid isomerase. Our objective was to compare the bioavailability of lycopene from tangerine to red tomato juice, and elucidate physical deposition forms of these isomers in tomatoes by light and electron microscopy.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: Following a randomized cross-over design, subjects (n = 11, 6 M/5 F) consumed two meals delivering 10 mg lycopene from tangerine (94% cis) or red tomato juice (10% cis). Blood was sampled over 12 h and triglyceride-rich lipoprotein fractions of plasma were isolated and analyzed using HPLC-DAD-MS/MS. Lycopene was crystalline in red tomato chromoplasts and globular in tangerine tomatoes. With tangerine tomato juice we observed a marked 8.5-fold increase in lycopene bioavailability compared to red tomato juice (p < 0.001). Fractional absorption was 47.70 ± 8.81% from tangerine and 4.98 ± 1.92% from red tomato juices. Large heterogeneity was observed among subjects. CONCLUSION: Lycopene is markedly more bioavailable from tangerine than from red tomato juice, consistent with a predominance of cis-lycopene isomers and presence in chromoplasts in a lipid dissolved globular state. These results justify using tangerine tomatoes as a lycopene source in studies examining the potential health benefits of lycopene-rich foods. Be well! JP

  4. Michal Says:

    And what about this: „Rice, Potato, and Tomato May Be As Inflammatory As Wheat“


  5. JP Says:

    Hi, Michal.

    Here’s my general take on the lectin issue. Many health promoting foods contain lectins or other components which can be conditionally toxic.

    Since lectins are present in such a broad array of healthy foods (link: http://www.pjbs.org/pjnonline/fin1120.pdf ), I think an individualized approach is warranted.

    1) *If* you suspect that lectin containing foods are causing you harm, avoid them for a trial period. Add them, remove them, note any changes.

    2) If you regularly include lectin containing foods in your diet, opt for those that are nutrient dense and least allergenic. As far as this goes, I would avoid grains, soy and white potatoes as a starting point.

    3) Cooking partially inactivates lectins. So, in this case, tomato soup or store bought tomato juice may be a better option than fresh, homemade juice.

    4) Do all that you can to support healthy intestinal integrity. Eating a nutrient dense, whole food diet that features probiotics or probiotic foods and traditional bone broth is helpful. The addition of pure glutamine powder is sometimes beneficial as well. So, too, is an elimination diet to assess possible dietary irritants.

    5) Soaking and sprouting nuts and seeds lowers lectins and phytic acid. This is worth trying if said foods are mildly problematic.

    There’s a lot we don’t yet know about how lectins affect human health in a real world setting. For instance, how do the multitude of other ingredients in a meal interact with lectins? A recent animal trial found that supplemental sucrose actually reduced the harm caused by a diet comprised of raw beans.


    Lastly, several studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in relation to tomato intake. However, the studies haven’t specifically looked at intestinal inflammation. Still, I think it’s worth noting.

    Be well!


  6. Paul F. Says:

    Hi JP,
    Thank you for informing us about the tremendous benefits of consumíng tangerine tomatoes to assimilate the lycopene! I will try to plant some and let you know my results!
    Obviously will condiment them with olive oil!
    Be well!

  7. JP Says:

    I hope they grow well, Paul!

    Thank you and be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Update 05/19/15:

    Note: I suspect the outcome of this trial would have been different *if* they would have added some olive oil to the tomato juice *or* if the tomato juice was ingested along with a meal. I’ll see if I can get access to the full text of the study. If so, I’ll report back!


    Women Health. 2015 Jun 18.

    The Effect of Tomato Juice Consumption on Antioxidant Status in Overweight and Obese Females.

    Tomatoes and their products are the main source of lycopene, a powerful potent antioxidant. Tomato products improve antioxidant defenses and reduce the risk of oxidative stress, at least partly, due to the presence of lycopene. Lycopene, as an antioxidant, induces the upregulation of antioxidant enzymes and reinforces the total enzyme capacity of human body. Obesity is a chronic condition in which destructive mechanisms increase the reactive oxygen species and attenuation of antioxidant status. We hypothesized that the consumption of a lycopene-rich food would improve antioxidant defense of women who were overweight or obese. A total of 75 overweight or obese female students of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences were enrolled and randomly allocated to one of two groups, intervention (n = 40), consuming 330 ml/d of tomato juice or water, or control (n = 35), respectively, for a 20-day period. At baseline and day 20, total antioxidant capacity and antioxidant enzyme activity (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase) were analyzed using ELISA kits and spectrophotometric methods and then compared between two groups. Lycopene consumption had no effect on these aforementioned variables. Therefore, it seems that more research with longer duration and more sensitive indicators will be required.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 07/28/15:


    Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 23:1-12.

    A comparison of plasma and prostate lycopene in response to typical servings of tomato soup, sauce or juice in men before prostatectomy.

    Tomato product consumption and estimated lycopene intake are hypothesised to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. To define the impact of typical servings of commercially available tomato products on resultant plasma and prostate lycopene concentrations, men scheduled to undergo prostatectomy (n 33) were randomised either to a lycopene-restricted control group ( < 5 mg lycopene/d) or to a tomato soup (2-2¾ cups prepared/d), tomato sauce (142-198 g/d or 5-7 ounces/d) or vegetable juice (325-488 ml/d or 11-16·5 fluid ounces/d) intervention providing 25-35 mg lycopene/d. Plasma and prostate carotenoid concentrations were measured by HPLC. Tomato soup, sauce and juice consumption significantly increased plasma lycopene concentration from 0·68 (sem 0·1) to 1·13 (sem 0·09) μmol/l (66 %), 0·48 (sem 0·09) to 0·82 (sem 0·12) μmol/l (71 %) and 0·49 (sem 0·12) to 0·78 (sem 0·1) μmol/l (59 %), respectively, while the controls consuming the lycopene-restricted diet showed a decline in plasma lycopene concentration from 0·55 (sem 0·60) to 0·42 (sem 0·07) μmol/l ( - 24 %). The end-of-study prostate lycopene concentration was 0·16 (sem 0·02) nmol/g in the controls, but was 3·5-, 3·6- and 2·2-fold higher in tomato soup (P= 0·001), sauce (P= 0·001) and juice (P= 0·165) consumers, respectively. Prostate lycopene concentration was moderately correlated with post-intervention plasma lycopene concentrations (r 0·60, P =0·001), indicating that additional factors have an impact on tissue concentrations. While the primary geometric lycopene isomer in tomato products was all-trans (80-90 %), plasma and prostate isomers were 47 and 80 % cis, respectively, demonstrating a shift towards cis accumulation. Consumption of typical servings of processed tomato products results in differing plasma and prostate lycopene concentrations. Factors including meal composition and genetics deserve further evaluation to determine their impacts on lycopene absorption and biodistribution. Be well! JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 1/2/15:


    Nutrients. 2015 Dec 17;7(12):10525-37.

    Hypolipidemic Effect of Tomato Juice in Hamsters in High Cholesterol Diet-Induced Hyperlipidemia.

    Tomato is a globally famous food and contains several phytonutrients including lycopene, β-carotene, anthocyanin, and flavonoids. The increased temperature used to produce tomato juice, ketchup, tomato paste and canned tomato enhances the bioactive composition. We aimed to verify the beneficial effects of processed tomato juice from Kagome Ltd. (KOT) on hypolipidemic action in hamsters with hyperlipidemia induced by a 0.2% cholesterol and 10% lard diet (i.e., high-cholesterol diet (HCD)). Male Golden Syrian hamsters were randomly divided into two groups for treatment: normal (n = 8), standard diet (control); and experimental (n = 32), HCD. The 32 hamsters were further divided into four groups (n = 8 per group) to receive vehicle or KOT by oral gavage at 2787, 5573, or 13,934 mg/kg/day for six weeks, designated the HCD-1X, -2X and -5X groups, respectively. The efficacy and safety of KOT supplementation was evaluated by lipid profiles of serum, liver and feces and by clinical biochemistry and histopathology. HCD significantly increased serum levels of total cholesterol (TC), triacylglycerol (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), LDL-C/HDL-C ratio, hepatic and fetal TC and TG levels, and degree of fatty liver as compared with controls. KOT supplementation dose-dependently decreased serum TC, TG, LDL-C levels, LDL-C/HDL-C ratio, hepatic TC and TG levels, and fecal TG level. Our study provides experiment-based evidence to support that KOT may be useful in treating or preventing the onset of hyperlipidemia.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 03/22/16:


    Nutrients. 2016 Mar 16;8(3). pii: E170.

    Tomato Sauce Enriched with Olive Oil Exerts Greater Effects on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors than Raw Tomato and Tomato Sauce: A Randomized Trial.

    Epidemiological studies have observed a negative association between tomato intake and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. As tomato sauces are usually cooked with the addition of oil, some studies have pointed out that both processes may increase the bioavailability of the bioactive compounds. However, the effect of consumption of raw tomatoes and tomato sauces on inflammation biomarkers and adhesion molecules related to atherosclerosis remains unknown. The aim of this study was to test the postprandial effects of a single dose of raw tomatoes (RT), tomato sauce (TS) and tomato sauce with refined olive oil (TSOO) on cardiovascular disease risk factors. We performed an open, prospective, randomized, cross-over, controlled feeding trial in 40 healthy subjects who randomly received: 7.0 g of RT/kg of body weight (BW), 3.5 g of TS/kg BW, 3.5 g of TSOO/Kg BW and 0.25 g of sugar solved in water/kg BW on a single occasion on four different days. Biochemical parameters and cellular and circulating inflammatory biomarkers were assessed at baseline and 6 h after each intervention. The results indicate that, compared to control intervention, a single tomato intake in any form decreased plasma total cholesterol, triglycerides and several cellular and plasma inflammatory biomarkers, and increased plasma high density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and interleukine (IL) 10 concentrations. However, the changes of plasma IL-6 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) from T-lymphocytes and CD36 from monocytes were significantly greater after TSOO than after RT and TS interventions. We concluded that tomato intake has beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors, especially cooked and enriched with oil.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 07/30/16:


    Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun 30.

    Tomato-based randomized controlled trial in prostate cancer patients: Effect on PSA.

    BACKGROUND & AIMS: The effect of lycopene-containing foods in prostate cancer development remains undetermined. We tested whether a lycopene-rich tomato intervention could reduce the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in prostate cancer patients.

    METHODS: Prior to their curative treatment, 79 patients with prostate cancer were randomized to a nutritional intervention with either 1) tomato products containing 30 mg lycopene per day; 2) tomato products plus selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, soy isoflavones, grape/pomegranate juice, and green/black tea (tomato-plus); or 3) control diet for 3 weeks.

    RESULTS: The main analysis, which included patients in all risk categories, did not reveal differences in changes of PSA-values between the intervention and control groups. Post-hoc, exploratory analyses within intermediate risk (n = 41) patients based on tumor classification and Gleason score post-surgery, revealed that median PSA decreased significantly in the tomato group as compared to controls (-2.9% and +6.5% respectively, p = 0.016). In separate post-hoc analyses, we observed that median PSA-values decreased by 1% in patients with the highest increases in plasma lycopene, selenium and C20:5 n-3 fatty acid, compared to an 8.5% increase in the patients with the lowest increase in lycopene, selenium and C20:5 n-3 fatty acid (p = 0.003). Also, PSA decreased in patients with the highest increase in lycopene alone (p = 0.009).

    CONCLUSIONS: Three week nutritional interventions with tomato-products alone or in combination with selenium and n-3 fatty acids lower PSA in patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer. Our observation suggests that the effect may depend on both aggressiveness of the disease and the blood levels of lycopene, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.

    Be well!


  13. JP Says:

    Updated 01/07/17:


    Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;26(1):65-71.

    The effects of tomato juice on male infertility.

    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate the effects of tomato juice consumption on seminal plasma lycopene levels and sperm parameters in infertile men.

    METHODS AND STUDY DESIGN: Subjects were male infertility patients with poor sperm concentration (<20×10 6/mL) and/or motility (<50%). Following a fourweek observation period, subjects were randomly assigned among three groups: a tomato juice group, an antioxidant group, and a control group. The subjects in the tomato juice group and the antioxidant group daily consumed one can of tomato juice (containing 30 mg of lycopene) or one antioxidant capsule (containing vitamin C 600 mg, vitamin E 200 mg, and glutathione 300 mg), respectively, for 12 weeks (feeding period). Seminal plasma lycopene levels and sperm parameters were measured every 6 weeks during the feeding period.

    RESULTS: Forty-four patients completed the study (control group: 12, antioxidant group: 15, tomato juice group: 17). In the tomato juice group, plasma lycopene level was significantly increased at the 12th week of the feeding period. Moreover, a decrease in seminal plasma white blood cells and an increase in sperm motility in the tomato juice group were statistically significant at the 12th and 6th weeks, respectively, compared to the control group. In the antioxidant capsule group, no significant improvement was observed in semen parameters.

    CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, regular consumption of tomato juice seems to improve sperm motility in infertile patients. This is the first report to show that commercially available food, such as tomato juice, might be beneficial for male infertility.

    Be well!


  14. JP Says:

    Updated 01/16/17:


    Br J Nutr. 2017 Jan 10:1-6.

    Dietary calcium impairs tomato lycopene bioavailability in healthy humans.

    Lycopene (LYC) bioavailability is relatively low and highly variable, because of the influence of several factors. Recent in vitro data have suggested that dietary Ca can impair LYC micellarisation, but there is no evidence whether this can lead to decreased LYC absorption efficiency in humans. Our objective was to assess whether a nutritional dose of Ca impairs dietary LYC bioavailability and to study the mechanism(s) involved. First, in a randomised, two-way cross-over study, ten healthy adults consumed either a test meal that provided 19-mg (all-E)-LYC from tomato paste or the same meal plus 500-mg calcium carbonate as a supplement. Plasma LYC concentration was measured at regular time intervals over 7 h postprandially. In a second approach, an in vitro digestion model was used to assess the effect of increasing Ca doses on LYC micellarisation and on the size and zeta potential of the mixed micelles produced during digestion of a complex food matrix. LYC bioavailability was diminished by 83 % following the addition of Ca in the test meal. In vitro, Ca affected neither LYC micellarisation nor mixed micelle size but it decreased the absolute value of their charge by 39 %. In conclusion, a nutritional dose of Ca can impair dietary LYC bioavailability in healthy humans. This inhibition could be due to the fact that Ca diminishes the electrical charge of micelles. These results call for a thorough assessment of the effects of Ca, or other divalent minerals, on the bioavailability of other carotenoids and lipophilic micronutrients.

    Be well!


  15. JP Says:

    Updated 07/10/17:


    Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Jul 8.

    trans-Lycopene from tomato juice attenuates inflammatory biomarkers in human plasma samples: an intervention trial.

    SCOPE: To evaluate the effects of carotenoids from tomato juice (TJ) on inflammatory biomarkers, by performing a 4-week dose-response nutritional trial in a population at high cardiovascular risk.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: An open, prospective, randomized, cross-over, and controlledclinical trial was carried out with 28 volunteers (mean age 69.7 ± 3.1 years; mean BMI 31.5 ± 3.6 kg/m2 ) at high cardiovascular risk, which were assigned to consume daily for 4 weeks in random order: 200 mL (LD) or 400 mL (HD) of TJ, or water as a control (C), with a 21-day wash-out period between each intervention. Blood samples were collected at baseline (B) and after each intervention. Endpoints included significant changes in plasmatic carotenoids, and adhesion molecules ICAM-1, and VCAM-1, as well as a tendency to decrease the chemokine IL-8. Compared to C, concentration of ICAM-1, and VCAM-1 were significantly lower (p ˂ 0.001), after each TJ intervention. Decreases were correlated remarkably with the trans-lycopene, while the other carotenoids present in TJ have presented a minor association or no association with changes in these molecules.

    CONCLUSION: trans-Lycopene from TJ may attenuate the risk of CVD by reducing the concentration of important inflammatory molecules related to atherosclerosis.

    Be well!


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