However a German study found that women who ate 40 grams (about 1/3 cup) of tomato paste daily for at least 10 weeks were more protected from the sun than those who didn’t. They reduced their risk of UV-induced erythema (redness) by 40% compared to the women who did not consume any tomato products.
The secret to this juicy little fruit’s protection power comes from the lycopene that gives the tomato its rich red color. Lycopene, the best free radical “scavenger” in the carotene family.
Unfortunately when it comes to unprocessed tomatoes very little lycopene is bioavailable so if you’re looking for UV-protecting effects, choose things like sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, or tomato juice.
In a repeat of the German study reported in the Journal of British Dermatology in 2010 which found similar results, the study authors concluded that the lycopene-rich tomato paste provides protection against acute and potentially longer-term aspects of UV-induced photo damage.
Obviously eating tomatoes is not a substitute for seeking shade in the middle of the day wearing a hat, UV clothing, sunglasses and frequent and thorough application of sunscreen, but it’s tasty addition to your sun protection arsenal.
So you can tuck into burgers with extra ketchup, spaghetti bolognese and a round of bloody marys guilt free!