When we were living in Hong Kong, we saw a makeover reality show on television that mentioned the health benefits of eating tomato paste. A few volunteers ate tomato paste daily for several months and claimed they burned less easily in the sun and saw a slight reversal in sun damage.

This tip caught my attention because eating a little tomato paste is definitely something I can do.

The Benefits of Lycopene in Tomato Paste

I found numerous articles online that said in 2008, researchers at Manchester and Newcastle Universities in England saw measured results in 10 volunteers that ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil every day for 3 months. Their skin’s ability to block UV rays improved.

The lycopene found in tomatoes provides this benefit, and it becomes more highly concentrated after being cooked. That’s why they suggest eating tomato paste versus raw tomatoes. Think about how many raw tomatoes you’d have to eat to get the right dosage otherwise.

Lycopene is an antioxidant that is not produced by our bodies. It is a pigment that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their red color.

The Combination of Olive Oil and Tomato Paste

Researchers suspect that olive oil and tomato paste are a potent combination. They are not sure if the added beneficial antioxidants, squalene, and oleic acid in olive oil are complementary or if the combination provides some further enhanced benefit.

Mediterranean populations have a low incidence of skin cancer and they obviously eat quite a bit of olive oil.

The Tomato Paste Study

Anyway, ten volunteers ate tomato paste and olive oil and another ten volunteers just ate olive oil. Researches tested small patches of the participants’ skin with UV lamps. After 3 months, the tomato paste eaters were a third better protected against sunburn at the end of the study than at the start. They also had higher collagen levels.

This level of improvement supposedly equates to a low-level sunscreen. I don’t think anyone believes this is a substitute for sunscreen, however.

I am born and raised in Southern California so I’ve had my fair share of sun. Only when I moved to Hong Kong, where people walk around with umbrellas if it’s sunny, did I become a little bit more conscious of keeping my freckles at bay.

On our last trip to Costco, I bought a giant box of organic tomato paste. I’m going to try this experiment and see what happens.

*Photo credit: istockphoto/robynmac

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. this is good news for me & my family, we eat a lot of tomatoes/tom paste/olive oil. also can’t get enough of garlic, yum. it’s supposed to be good for you too, but i just love it regardless. can you tell i have a Sicilian Nana?

  2. What a great post! I am very interested in testing this out myself. If you add olive oil to your salad, or dip it with some warm bread, it would go down much easier. I use olive oil instead of salad dressing all the time, so at least it is a substitution and not added calories.
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Winners of One Scream Away! =-.

  3. Great to see info about olive oil (again). You never can get enough of the versatile oil that is good for you from head to toe–inside and outside the body. Health, home cures, beauty, pet and household care, and yep, you can cook and bake with it.
    The Writing Gourmet

  4. Pingback: Understanding Red Wine Headaches
  5. It’s good heard that now tomato can work on our diseases too llike wrinkles & sun damage. Thanks for the informative note on it which save not only time but also cost from doctors too in our busy life style. Thanks once again. 🙂

    1. I need to write a follow up post about this but I did notice that I was sunburning less during the time when I was eating tomato paste everyday. I used to go out in my backyard in the sun and turn red pretty quickly. I ran out, got busy and slacked on eating it religiously. Need to start on it again!

  6. I’ve been using this serum diligently for 4-5 months and love it. Its the Made from Earth Vitamin Enhanced Face Firming Serum. It works, it works, it works! I had a lot of sun damage and fine wrinkles on my forehead that are simply gone. And it’s completely smoothed out my skin.

    I had rough patches here and there, plus oily T-zone and this cream was great on my entire face. No breakouts and the texture of my skin is fantastic now. Concealer and make up go on a lot smoother now.

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