London, Apr 29 : When it comes to fighting sunburn, those pesky wrinkles and skin cancer, nothing does the trick as well as adding a little more tomato to your diet.
The finding is based on a research by boffins at the universities of Manchester and Newcastle, who found that adding just five tablespoons of tomato paste to the daily diet can improve the skin's ability to protect against harmful UV rays.
Damage from UV rays can not only lead to premature ageing, but also skin cancer.
The researchers suggested that the protective effect was due to the antioxidant lycopene that is found at its highest concentration when the fruit has been cooked.
Lycopene has already been linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.
As a part of the study, 10 volunteers were given around 55g of standard tomato paste and 10g of olive oil daily for a period of three months.
A control group of 10 participants received just the olive oil.
The researchers found that volunteers who were given tomato had 33 percent more protection against sunburn, and higher levels of a molecule called procollagen that gives the skin its structure and keeps its firm.
"The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin ageing process," The BBC quoted Professor Lesley Rhodes, a dermatologist at the University of Manchester, as saying.
"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."