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Tomato Tan

Reclining on the beach below the squawking seagulls, you reach over the edge of your lounge chair into your bag on the sand. There it is, your brand new sunscreen lotion to help keep your skin healthy: a jar of tomato paste. Just kidding!

But seriously, researchers for the British Society for Investigative Dermatology found that adding five tablespoons of tomato paste to your diet can help build up a barrier in your skin. This natural defense could make your skin less prone to damage from UV rays. The source is the antioxidant lycopene, which is already linked to help reduce chances of developing prostate cancer.

While the study was small, research examining skin samples after three months showed that those who added the extra tomato to their diet were 33% more protected from sunburn. These individuals also had higher levels of procollagen, “a molecule which gives the skin its structure and keeps its firm.”

While eating tomatoes and tomato-filled products is not a substitute for sunscreen, it is a great supplement. Getting some sun every once in a while is good for you (and your mood)! So lather up, but also incorporate tomato on your pasta or sandwiches, or however you can, to let the good rays in and help keep the bad from damaging your skin. [BBC]

Posted: 4/28/08