If you want as much protection as possible for your skin against the harmful UV rays, you may want to start eating more tomatoes or tomato paste if you aren’t already doing so. This is because tomatoes contain the potent free-radical scavenging phytonutrient lycopene and recent studies have revealed that lycopene may pack twice the punch of the well-known antioxidant beta-carotene which is known to protect our skin against sun damage.
According to Newcastle University, a study presented at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology earlier this year revealed that eating tomato paste which contains a high concentration of cooked tomatoes could help protect against sunburn and sun-induced skin ageing.
In the study, researchers compared the skin of 20 people, half of whom were given five tablespoons (55g) of standard tomato paste with 10g of olive oil every day, with the other half receiving just olive oil, over a period of 12 weeks. The skin was exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light – which is found naturally in sunlight – at the beginning and end of the trial. The team found significant improvements in the skin’s ability to protect itself against UV in the group who had been eating tomato paste.
BBC also ran a similar test to prove that tomatoes can protect our skin from UV rays by 30%. They took 23 women who were used to burning merely at the sight of the sun and asked half of them to eat 55g of tomato paste every day for 12 weeks (giving them 16mg of lycopene). After 12 weeks of rigorously following the tomato paste diet, it was found that those on the lycopene diet had a 30% increase in skin protection.
Eating fresh tomatoes are good but apparently, cooked tomatoes or tomato paste are great too because according to an article at Cornell, heat processing actually enhanced the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the lycopene content.
So ladies, eat more tomatoes and lap up the paste too because a tomato diet will boost the level of procollagen in the skin significantly and provide an extra tool in sun protection. But of course, still wear your sunscreen! Remember: beauty inside out!