Lycopene May Help Prevent Postmenopausal Osteoporosis
A juicy slice of watermelon is the perfect summertime snack, and with National Watermelon Day coming up on August 3 there’s no better time to enjoy this succulent fruit. Already shown to aid in blood pressure management, post-exercise recovery, and stroke risk reduction, watermelon is now being considered particularly beneficial for older women thanks to the compound lycopene, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Bone.
Researchers from Saudi Arabia investigated the effects of lycopene on postmenopausal osteoporosis, an inflammatory condition that weakens bones and increases risk of bone fracture. Scientists fed female rats extra lycopene along with their usual diets for 12 weeks, finding lycopene helped to improve bone mass and strength while reducing bone deterioration.
There are a few possible explanations for lycopene’s beneficial effect. Lycopene may help combat harmful oxidative stress that weakens bones, or it could be playing a direct role in bone metabolism. Either way, adding a few more lycopene-rich foods to your diet is a safe and natural way to keep your bones healthy.
Watermelon isn’t the only delicious food that brings lycopene to the table. Tomatoes, red grapefruit, red guava and red papaya also contain the compound—lycopene is what gives these foods their beautiful red color! Make a tomato and basil salad, enjoy grapefruit with your breakfast, or add papaya to a smoothie. For a refreshing summertime salad, try Watermelon and Shaved Ricotta Salata with Mint.
Published July 1, 2016