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Lycopene in tomato juice protects against exercise induced oxidative stress

Posted on Sunday, 6 May, 2012 by anthony

Recent research has found that the consumption of just 150ml of tomato juice daily (equal to 15mg lycopene) protected against exercise induced increases in 8-oxodG, indicating reduced levels of oxidative stress and DNA oxidation.

About the tomato juice/lycopene research

Lycopene in tomato juiceThe researchers recruited 15 healthy but untrained subjects and asked them to consume 150ml of tomato juice (containing 0.1mg lycopene per ml) daily over 2 periods of 5 weeks, this was separated by 5 weeks without tomato juice. The researchers took blood samples before and at the end of each 5 week period. Immediately following the collection of blood samples the subjects underwent 20 minutes of cycling exercise at 80% of maximum heart rate. The researchers then took a second blood 1 hour after the completion of the cycling exercise. The blood samples were used to analyse levels of 8-oxodG (a marker of oxidative stress) before and after exercise.

What the researchers found

The researchers found that without tomato juice the level of 8-oxodG increased following exercise, by an average of 42% and 84% (at start of trial and after the 5 week wash out period respectively) indicating increased levels of oxidative stress and DNA oxidation. However, the consumption of tomato juice protected against this rise in 8-oxodG with average changes in 8-oxodG levels of -22% and 26% following exercise in the first and second 5 week tomato juice consumption period respectively.

The researchers stated that the daily consumption of 150ml of tomato juice (containing 15mg lycopene) provided significant protection against reactive oxygen species produced during intense exercise. The researchers point out that along with lycopene tomato juice also contains vitamin C, tocopherols and polyphenols, however, they attribute most of the antioxidant activity of tomato juice to the lycopene content.

Interestingly the tomato juice did not appear to influence the level of oxidative stress when this group of healthy subjects were at rest but provided protection when there was increased production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) – in this case following a period of acute exercise. In this way the lycopene in tomato juice may provide protection for people with conditions that increase levels of oxidative stress. The researchers suggest that tomato juice may reduce oxidative stress levels in patients with increased levels of oxidative stress such as those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or inflammatory diseases and conclude that “data strongly suggest that tomato juice has a potential antioxidant effect and may reduce the elevated level of ROS induced by oxidative stress.”

Summary of the effects of tomato juice/lycopene research

  • Exercise increased oxidative stress in healthy but untrained subjects
  • 150ml of tomato juice (equal to 15mg of lycopene) protected against the exercise induced reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress
  • The lycopene in tomato juice may be beneficial for patients with conditions that increase oxidative stresss


Harms-Ringdahl M, Jenssen D, Haghdoost S (2012) Tomato juice intake suppressed serum concentration of 8-oxodG after extensive physical activity Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:29 (2 May 2012)

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