As the month draws to a close we have a couple of last looks at what the scientists told us in 2008, what was good and what was not so good for us. In a slightly more oblique blog today we’ll have a look at tomatoes. With a relatively low GI (see our fact sheet on nutrition for more information) they are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins (A & C) and also and also contain lycopene (especially in cooked tomatoes, sauces and ketchup!) which protects against cancer, especially in men. But a study in 2008 also showed that they seem to protect the skin from sunburn!
Foods rich in cooked tomatoes may boost your body’s ability to ward off skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and stave off the effects of aging, according to a study conducted by researchers from the universities of Manchester and Newcastle, and presented to the British Society for Investigative Dermatology. Researchers fed 10 volunteers a daily supplement of 10 grams of olive oil and 55 grams of standard tomato paste, while another 10 were given only the olive oil. After three months, the researchers analyzed skin samples from all 20 participants. They found that volunteers who had eaten the tomatoes exhibited 33 percent more protection against sunburn than those who had taken olive oil alone. They also had higher levels of procollagen, a protein that plays a crucial role in preserving skin structure.
“The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin aging process,” researcher Lesley Rhodes said.
“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.”
The scientists believe that lycopene neutralizes free radicals that are formed when UV radiation strikes the skin. These free radicals have been linked to cancer and the effects of aging. As part of our moderation philosophy to personal training and nutrition here at Diets Don’t Work tomatoes are a perfect example of a good wholefood. Rich in a wide range of things that we need and that are good for us, but also with fibre and micro nutrients. They are in fact the opposite of the empty vitamins that we discused in the blog on supplements a few days ago. So tuck in and have some with your lunch.