Researchers at the University of Manchester and University of Newcastle found that adding five tablespoons of tomato paste to the daily diet of 10 volunteers can help avoid skin damage by providing protection against the effects of ultra-violet rays.
Damage caused by these rays can cause premature aging and even skin cancer.
In one study, researchers gave 10 volunteers as much as 55 grams of standard tomato paste which contains high levels of cooked tomatoes and olive oil 10 grams per day, while another 10 participants are given only olive oil.
After three months, skin samples from the tomato group showed they were given a 33% extra protection from sunburn, with very little cream factor of sun protection, and procollagen levels are much higher. Procollagen in a molecule which gives skin its structure and keep it supple.
The study showed antioxidant lycopene, found in most high concentration when tomatoes are cooked, was behind the apparent benefits.
"Food tomatoes prominently promote procollagen levels in the skin. This increase indicates the potential reversal of skin aging process," said Lesley Rhodes, dermatologist at the University of Manchester, the BBC quoted.
But there is a warning that tomatoes should be viewed as a useful addition and not as a choice for the cream of sun protection.
Researchers said the study was smaller and shorter, and they are now considering new research about the benefits of lycopene for the skin.