When summer comes I want to take every opportunity I have to soak up the sun. Getting a taste of those warm rays of sunshine, for me, simply equals a moment of total happiness. Plus the sun makes our skin produce that important vitamin D, sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, which is good for our bones, teeth and for resisting certain diseases. Problem is of course, that the sun’s UV rays are bad for us. Particularly for light skin tones as in my case. Potential sunburn, premature aging and possible skin cancer means we need to protect our skin.
So here comes the link between tomatoes and sun protection. Interestingly, various study results have been linking eating tomato foods with about 30% increase in the skin’s natural protection against the sun’s UV rays.
A Daily Mail article reports on research made at Manchester and Newcastle universities revealing that the fruit’s benefits are credited to lycopene—the pigment behind its distinctive red skin. The highest levels would be found in processed or cooked tomatoes used in ketchup, paste, soup and juice.
Apparently lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, capable of getting rid of free radicals—the harmful molecules linked to cancer. The recommended dose for optimum health would be two tomato-based meals a day.
Other tests suggested the tomato-based diet had boosted production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin supple. An article provides information about various studies done over the years which suggest health benefits are associated with carotenoids in general, and tomato lycopene in particular:
“The large family of coloured compounds call ‘carotenoids’ (of which lycopene is one) are known to help protect plants from too much sunlight and this has prompted scientists over many years to investigate if these pigments might also be able to help protect humans from the dangers of ultra-violet radiation.”
“The results showed that beta-carotene plus usual sunscreens prevent acute UV-induced skin damage more effectively than just normal sunscreens by themselves and, the authors claim, probably prevent long-term skin aging.”
Of course it doesn’t mean we should reduce the use of sun protection. But let’s include a glass of tomato juice or a tomato soup with our lunch and pasta with a tomato sauce for dinner and help our skin age a bit slower over time.
Enjoy the sunshine!