Repeat after me – I am not a tomato. Huh!? If your reaction to this statement is confusion, you mightn’t of heard the most recent word on the street – tomatoes might just stave off your wrinkles. More specifically tomato paste might just help you protect against the most damaging of ‘under your control’ ageing factors – UV light.
…and this isn’t one of those, ‘it could help, if you ate an insanely inhuman amount of the stuff’ kinda science learnings. This is one where a few tablespoons could be enough i.e. it’s actually actionable and it’s a health kick that’s ready and waiting for you.
But dear friend, before raiding your local supermarket for their stash of tomato paste, I know you’d like to know the insides of this stuff for yourself. So, let’s get to this… exactly why and how can tomato paste protect your skin against sunburn?
Tomato Paste vs. UV light: You Are What Your Eat
This is like a real life, you’ve been tangoed type scenario. Can you imagine? Now, I’m not saying this would ever happen to you, because you’re sensibly savvy and you know that everything that’s good for you also has side-effects if over-dosed. But yes, if you ate too many tomatoes, you could really end up turning your skin an orangey-red shade.
While you’re way too smart to ever find yourself in this situation, I tell you this because it’s a great show of how what you eat, ends up in your skin – literally.
Every little part of your body needs fuel and your fuel isn’t the sometimes nauseating fumes of petrol, it’s the often extra delicious wafts of egg baked ratatouille or dark chocolate slathered strawberries. These delicious human destined fuels, get eaten, digested and absorbed through your intestines. Yup, those crazy long tubes that could stretch the length of an entire tennis court. It’s here where the magic happens. Where antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals get absorbed and transported off through your blood stream.
Anywhere that’s near a bloodstream, gets fed… so you guessed it, that’s any part of you that’s alive. Sorry hair, you can’t have everything ‘eh.
Tomato Paste vs. Sunburn
Some foods are great for your heart health. Some foods are great for your super-savvy brain and others, like tomato paste, may just help protect your skin against UV light, sunburn and ageing.
UV light is the reason why your skin burns in summertime. It’s also the biggest cause of premature ageing. The kind that gets skin looking like the gobble of a turkey’s neck. These changes don’t happen over-night, they’re cumulative, meaning the most natural of ways to prevent against them is to do everything you can to protect against sunburn.
Your first step should always be sun protection. But what about your second step?… Could that be tomato paste?
Tomato paste is jam packed with antioxidants and antioxidants help to protect your skin against sunburn. They literally mop up the high energy of UV light so it doesn’t have an opportunity to interact with your skin cells. That means hello healthy collagen and goodbye premature ageing.
Back in 2001, researchers decided to put tomato paste to the challenge. Mr. Tomato, can you really protect skin against sunburn?
Participants enrolled where put into 1 of 2 groups, they either had the pleasure of eating;
- 10g of olive oil a day, or…
- 40g (just under 3 tablespoons) of tomato paste with 10g of olive oil a day.
That first group, the ‘non-tomato eaters’, are what’s called a control group. They consumed something, but a something without tomato paste which was the ingredient the study wanted to investigate i.e. if anything that happened to group 1, also happened to group 2, you’d know it was because of the olive oil and not the tomato paste.
So just what did happen?
After 10 weeks of supplementation, those in the ‘tomato paste eating’ group had 40% less erythema on exposure to UV light. Taking those science – mouthfuls away, that means people in the ‘tomato paste eating group’ had 40% less skin reddening on exposure to light that causes sun burn. Not bad ‘eh.
Tomato paste really can help towards protecting your skin against sun burn… and protecting your skin against sun burn, also protects your skin against premature aging. Good-bye turkey gobble skin.
So, just how does tomato paste work?
Tomato Paste: Lycopene Benefits
The secret’s in the red. Tomato paste, tomatoes and anything flavoured with their juice contains a big dose of antioxidants belonging to the carotenoid family. Have you heard of those guys? Carotenoids are the ingredients that make carrots orange, the ingredient behind the rumour that eating your share of them will have you busting night-vision without night-vision goggles.
Sun cream isn’t the only way to protect your skin against UV damage, diet is also important – tomatoes and carrots are fabulous at it! pic.twitter.com/ZBWgiXm4kV
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 13 March 2017
Tomato beholds a very specific kind of carotenoid going by the name of lycopene. It’s a daughter of the carotenoid family, it’s a potent antioxidant and it’s the reason your tomatoes are red. The tomato eating group consuming 40g of tomato paste a day, where actually eating 16mg of lycopene. That’s handy to know if you’re considering a lycopene supplement.. which we’ll talk more about very soon.
When this fat soluble vitamin finds itself in your skin, it’ll sacrifice itself to UV light so your skin doesn’t have to, meaning your skin becomes protected against sun burn.
Tomatoes, Tomato Paste & Lycopene Supplements for Sun Protection
If you’re about to begin supplementing with tomato paste, tomato juice or lycopene supplements, there’s a few things you should know about first.
1. Lycopene is fat soluble.
Remember how the study we chatted about earlier had participants eating up 40g of tomato paste with 10g of olive oil? Did you wonder why the olive oil? A little random huh? Well, my friend, you have great powers of observation. Go you. In fact, the olive oil was chosen because lycopene is fat soluble. Eating a vitamin that’s fat soluble with fat, helps your body to ‘grab and hold’ onto it. Think of it like this, you couldn’t rub olive oil off your skin without the help of hand-wash ‘eh. Water and oil don’t normally mix, which means you’ve got to use something oil does mix in, to help move it from one place to another.
The takeaway: If you’re wanting the sun protecting benefits of tomato paste, be sure to take it with a meal of healthy fats.
2. Heat helps make lycopene much more available to your body.
Sometimes cooking food make the yummy nutrients ‘go-off’, sometimes cooking foods actually helps to bring those yummy nutrients out. Case 2, is true for tomato’s.
Whenever you eat, your body’s most vital job is to breakdown what once was a tomato into all of the helpful building blocks it’s made from. If nutrients like lycopene are locked away inside tomato flesh and they make it through your digestive system this way, they’re going to be flushed-through and away.
This is where heat can help. Heat helps break down your tomato cages, so sun protecting lycopene can be released.
The takeaway: Heating helps release Lycopene. Heating tomatoes, actually makes lycopene more available to your body. If you were planning on taking 2 tablespoons of tomato paste in the morning and your actually having a hot meal in the evening, it’ll be even better to add them to your dinner instead.
3. Natural tomato extract supplements offer better sun protection than synthetic lycopene supplements.
The beauty of natural ingredients is that they’re a whirlpool of many things. Tomato paste, tomato juice or even the full fleshed tomato itself, does not just contain lycopene. It also contains lots of other yummy vitamins and antioxidants. That’s why studies show that natural tomato extract supplements containing both lycopene and B-carotene has a much greater benefit against sun burn than synthetic, lycopene only supplements.
The takeaway: If you’re looking for a lycopene supplement. Opt for a natural tomato extract supplement containing both lycopene and B-carotene.
4. Carrot and tomato juice have the same effects.
Love mixing it up? Be safe in the knowledge that it’s not just tomato paste that can help towards boosting your lycopene levels. Carrot juice has the same effect. In fact, carrot juice can be even better at protecting your skin against sun burn and wrinkling. Where 40g of tomato paste in 10g of olive oil, providing 16mg of lycopene can reduce skin reddening by 40%, 400ml of carrot juice, providing 10mg of lycopene and 5.1mg of B-carotene can reduce skin reddening by 45%.
The takeaway: Carrot juice is just as good at protecting your skin against sunburn because it has a powerful duo of both lycopene and B-carotene. Oh yes, 2 are definitely better than 1!
There you have it dear friend. Tomato paste, carrot juice and lycopene/B-carotene supplements are great foods, helping to protect your skin against sun burn, wrinkling and ageing. How do you eat yours? Do you have a fab dose of these ingredients in your diet already? Tell me more in the comments below.
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who is more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She is founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.