A Shocking Sunburn Protector


By Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD

With summer fast approaching, I don’t know about you, but I think about skin … and sunburns.

But, maybe that’s because I’m super pale (some may call me pasty), and I fry like a tomato on the grill!

That being said, I’m always a sucker for anything and everything that helps protect my skin from the sun. And as my Momma always said, “Sunscreen is the real secret to aging beautifully.”

What also may be a secret is the tomato.

To be quite honest, I was shocked to learn this!

Now, I’m not saying if you eat tomatoes or tomato products to ditch the sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat. But, I am saying that for us “fryers” out there, tomatoes can be an added boost to your sun-protecting regimen.

The Data

Research shows that tomatoes could protect your skin from damaging UV rays and sunburn. In one study, women who ate tomato paste (and therefore, lycopene) daily for 12 weeks had a 30% increase in skin protection, compared to women who didn’t eat lycopene daily.

More research has shown that processed tomato products may contribute to life-long protection against harmful UV radiation because of the presence of powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene.  Additional studies have shown similar data.

This brings me to lycopene. What is it?

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has not only shown to protect against damaging UV rays, but against a myriad of cancers. Plus, it helps keep our cells healthy and protects against inflammation.

Surprisingly, about 85% of lycopene Americans consume comes from tomatoes. And one of the best places to find it is in tomato paste.

This is because tomato paste is cooked, making  lycopene easier to absorb. Lycopene is best absorbed when tomatoes have been heated and cooked. Therefore, marinara sauces, roasted or stewed tomatoes, canned or jarred tomatoes, and tomato paste are fabulous lycopene-boosting choices.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for an extra sun-protecting boost, start making tomato products part of your daily eats.

Check out the easy tasty smoothie recipe below to help you get your lycopene in unexpected ways!



Smoothie Recipe: The Antioxidant Powerhouse


  • ½ cup ice
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup strawberries
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt


Directions: Combine all ingredients, blend, and enjoy!

Nutrition information (per 1 smoothie): 204 calories, 1 gram of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein

What’s your favorite smoothie ingredient?