Tomatoes might just be my favorite "veggie that is really a fruit." And now I have yet another reason to love them. It appears that eating tomatoes can improve the skins ability to protect against UV rays, which can cause premature aging of the skin as well as skin cancer. Although the study was quite small, involving only 20 volunteers, the results are promising. Ten volunteers ate 55 grams (just shy of two ounces) of tomato paste with 10 grams of olive oil daily, while another 10 volunteers ate 10 grams of olive oil daily. After three months, the tomato group had 33 percent more protection against sunburn (like wearing a very low factor sunscreen) and considerably higher levels of procollagen, which gives the skin its structure and keeps it firm.
Researchers believe that the antioxidant lycopene gives tomatoes their healthy edge. Good news is that concentrations of lycopene increase when tomatoes are cooked. So bring on the red sauce!