By Merritt Rosen
With the Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, all eyes will be on Hollywood’s hottest duos…Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie. But there’s a far more powerful couple heating things up in the kitchen: Tomatoes and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Apart, these two SuperFoods protect, energize, and satiate; together, they amplify each other’s already extraordinary benefits.
Low in calories and high in fiber, tomatoes are a great source of caretenoids, which in addition to their incredible anticarcinogenic and immune-enhancing properties, help maintain radiant, picture-perfect skin. Tomatoes are one of the primary plant-based dietary sources of beta-carotene, an extraordinary carotenoid with the ability to be converted into active vitamin A. A crucial component for healthy bone and reproductive development, vitamin A also helps maintain skin’s youthful appearance by increasing cell synthesis and turnover, and stimulating collagen production.
Lycopene, another natural, powerful carotenoid found in tomatoes, effectively eliminates damaging free radicals like singlet oxygen, and can actually raise the natural sun protection factor (SPF) of your skin! A study conducted by three prominent British psychologists, Stephen, Coetzee and Perrett (2011), found that participants consistently preferred the skin tone and texture of faces empirically designed to reflect the effects of carotenoids across fifty trials.
Don’t let tomatoes’ short season discourage you from including them in your diet. Tomatoes’ full nutritional value is found in processed versions available all year long, such as soups, sauces, and juice. In fact, studies show that tomato paste has four times the amount of lycopene found in whole raw tomatoes.
In order to take complete advantage of tomatoes’ impressive qualities, pair them with the flavorful SuperFood, extra virgin olive oil. Not only does heart healthy EVOO protect cells against damage and inflammation and promote healthy skin from the inside out, it also helps ensure the absorption of these fat-soluble carotenoids.
So roast cherry tomatoes with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, or toss a few sun-dried tomatoes on top of a salad, and get ready for your close-up.
Merritt Rosen, Communications Manager and Associate Advisory Board Member of SuperFoodsRx. Merritt holds a Masters in Health and Consumer Psychology from New York University. Her favorite SuperFood is oatmeal.