Here's a possible explanation for the fact that Italians are famous for their Don Juan-esque qualities: the pizza and spaghetti sauce makes them look more attractive, granting them a shiny skin devoid of sunburn and wrinkles. A new research presented at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology has discovered that 5 tablespoons of tomato paste added daily to your diet improves your skin's capacity to fight harmful UV radiation, which can cause several affections, from premature aging to skin cancer.
This effect could be provoked by an antioxidant called lycopene, abundant in tomatoes, especially in cooked ones. A 2007 research had already shown that a lycopene rich diet was connected to decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Now, the team made of researchers from Manchester and Newcastle, UK, asked 10 subjects to consume around 55 g of standard tomato paste (comprising mainly cooked tomatoes) and 10g of olive oil daily. Another 10 subjects consumed only the olive oil.
Three months later, skin analysis revealed that the tomato group displayed 33% more protection against sunburn (tomato consumption had the same effect like a very low factor sun cream), having significantly higher levels of procollagen, a protein controlling skin structure and making it firm and smooth.
"The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin aging process. These weren't huge amounts of tomato we were feeding the group. It was the sort of quantity you would easily manage if you were eating a lot of tomato-based meals," Professor Lesley Rhodes, a dermatologist at the University of Manchester told BBC News.
Still, researchers warned that tomatoes help but do not replace a sun cream. This research was made on a small poll of people and for a short period of time, that's why further investigation is required in order to assess the precise effect of the lycopene for the skin.