Scientists have revealed that eating plenty of tomatoes could ward off wrinkles and even skin cancer and infertility in men. This is because the fruit is rich in an antioxidant called lycopene that helps shield the body from harmful UV radiation.
A new study carried out by some German researchers and published in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests that tomatoes are not substitutes for sunscreen but offers another important line of defence.
The German researchers said it could lead to people taking supplements containing the chemical for health – or cosmetic – purposes.
They also found another pigment known as lutein – abundant in spinach and kale – achieved similar results.
Conventional sunscreens are designed to block out ultraviolet light – UVA and UVB – the rays that damage and burn the skin. However, these products do not block out infrared rays.
Professor Jean Krutmann, of Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, said: ‘There is growing evidence that dietary intervention can protect human skin against detrimental effects caused by solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
He added that the study further supports the concept that dietary strategies are beneficial for human skin in general and nutritional supplements of the exact kind used in the study are very effective in providing protection against UVA radiation-induced skin damage in particular.
An earlier study published in April this year found that a nutrient in a ‘tomato pill’ could supercharge sperm by up to 70 per cent and offer new hope to childless couples.
Lycopene, the compound which gives tomato its red colour, was the focus of a study at Sheffield University, United Kingdom (UK), aimed at measuring the boost to male fertility offered by an over-the-counter modified lycopene supplement known to double blood lycopene levels.