Your skin’s new best friend
Not only are tomatoes high in the antioxidant Vitamin C (one of our favourite skin-loving nutrients), they are also high in a little-known nutrient called Lycopene.
What is Lycopene?
Lycopene is a carotenoid that is responsible for the red colour of tomatoes. Mainly found in the skin of the fruit, it is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect our skin.
Unlike with most nutrients which degrade with cooking and processing, this super nutrient is found in higher concentrations in cooked tomatoes, and is generally stable to processing. (1)
Tomato ketchup contains around 10–14 mg of lycopene per 100 grams, while one small, fresh tomato (100 grams) holds only 1–8 mg.
What does Lycopene do?
Research has shown that the antioxidant properties in lycopene can help to control levels of free radicals (click here for a low-down on free radicals), and so protecting your body against some medical conditions. (3)
Can Lycopene protect skin?
Research studies have shown promising results indicating that the nutrient could offer some protection against the damaging effects of the sun (4).
In one 12-week study, participants were exposed to UV rays before and after consuming either 16 mg of lycopene from tomato paste or a placebo. Participants in the tomato paste group had less severe reactions to the UV exposure (5).
Should we eat tomatoes before going in the sun?
All of the research points towards cooked tomatoes being very beneficial to skin health and protecting skin from the sun, so it could be a great idea to up our intake before sun exposure, however don’t go skipping the sun screen – it’s still vital to use sun screen protect us from the sun’s damaging rays.