You know how push-ups are often hailed as the perfect exercise? Tomatoes are the push-ups of the diet world. Not only are they low in calories, sugars, and carbs; virtually fat-free; and loaded with vitamins and nutrients, but they also offer major skin benefits. If you’re as big on fighting aging from the inside out as we are, keep reading to find out why tomatoes are topping the list of skin foods!
Tomatoes have a long-standing history as a healthy food. “Tomatoes are a staple of the most effective and best-studied diet: the Mediterranean Diet,” Dr. Mark Menolascino, key medical opinion leader at Lycored, says. “The study of the benefits of this diet showed a 50% mortality reduction—if any drug had that type of result, we would all be taking it!” For the skin, it’s an antioxidant powerhouse. It’s loaded with four of the most potent carotenoids, including lycopene, lutein, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, with lycopene being the real skin star. “Tomatoes contain a uniquely high concentration of lycopene, which has the highest antioxidant activity of all carotenoids,” Dr. Menolascino says. “There’s also vitamin E and vitamin C, as well as flavonols, such as quercetin.” Which is good to know, since according to the USDA, over half of us don’t get enough of these crucial antioxidants.
By now you understand antioxidants are basically lifelines for skin cells, but it’s the lycopene in tomatoes that takes them a step further. Lycopene protects against ultraviolet radiation and the resulting sun damage. Dr. Menolascino says to think of tomatoes as sunscreen from the inside out. “The antioxidant properties of tomatoes also reduce the oxidative stress that leads to cell damage,” Dr. Menolascino says. And reducing oxidative damage means healthier skin renewal. It’s pretty simple, really; cells that renew themselves faster and protect themselves from sun damage better are cells that fight off signs of aging longer.
Before you hit the grocery store, remember Dr. Menolascino’s advice and buy organic to reap the most carotenoids and antioxidant benefits. And be sure to eat the whole tomato, including the peel—it’s home to most of the antioxidant properties.
Want to see visible results right now? Incorporate tomato into your skincare regimen. “Tomato-based products help the skin oxygenate to reduce wrinkles and the effects of aging,” Dr. Menolascino says. “Some people even apply tomato paste diluted with water as a cleanser, and I’ve seen this successfully benefit clients with acne.” Whether you’re using tomato products to fight aging or acne (or both), they’ll give your skin a healthy glow.
Scroll through for a few of our favorite tomato-based skincare products!