Protect Your Skin & Increase Your Vitality...
How is your late-summer garden growing? If you live in southern California (like we do here at SuperFoodsRx) and you planted your tomatoes in mid-June, they're ready to be enjoyed. Even if you didn't plant a garden your local farmers' market is probably overflowing with varieties, colors and sizes of this flavorful fruit. (Yes, I still call it a fruit because botanically it is, although the in 1893 the Supreme Court ruled it a veggie.)
Tomatoes are low in fat, high in fiber and potassium and they are also rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutien/zeaxanthin, phytuene/phytofluene and various polyphenols. Tomatoes also contain small amounts of B vitamins, folate, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Although tomatoes are rich in all these important nutrients, it's their lycopene content that has recently attracted the most attention from nutritionists.
Lycopene combats free-radicals and is the most efficient quencher of the free-radical singlet oxygen, a particularly harmful form of oxygen. A fascinating study was done on nuns* ranging in age from 77 to 98. The nuns with the highest blood concentrations of lycopene were the most able to care for themselves and complete everyday tasks. And interestingly, no similar relationship between vitality and the presence of other antioxidants was found.
There are only a few foods found to contain significant amounts of lycopene. Red watermelon, another wonderful summer fruit, has high amounts of lycopene.
I find it particularly interesting that lycopene is an important part of the antioxidant defense network in the skin, and dietary lycopene can raise the sun protection factor (SPF) of the skin. When you make tomatoes a regular part of your diet you may help enhance your skin's ability to handle the damaging rays of the sun. It's like an internal sunblock. (However, this doesn't mean you should spend all day gardening in the sun without any external sunblock! Dr. Hugh Greenway, head of Dermatology at The Scripps Clinic and one of the SuperFoodsRx founders , reminds us always to use sunscreen!)
So add a few tomatoes to your next meal or snack. Your skin and body will appreciate it.
*What's the deal with studying nuns!? Well, a lot of variables in a more typical study population that confound (or confuse) the findings of a research study are either eliminated or minimized because of the relatively homogeneous adult lifestyles and environments of nuns. Generally speaking, nuns are non-smokers, drink little if any alcohol, have the same marital status and reproductive history, have lived in similar housing, held similar jobs, and had similar access to preventive and medical care and there are readily available records for the group.