Being fair-skinned, I never get a suntan and usually just end up with a bad sunburn as a painful reminder I’ve stayed out in the sun for too long! Maybe I should start eating more pizza. Experts at Manchester University claim that eating pizza can prevent sunburn and help keep wrinkles at bay too, as well as being a powerful weapon against skin cancer. Apparently the secret lies in the tomato paste topping found on top of pizzas, or rather an ingredient it contains called Lycopene. Tomato paste toppings are usually made from highly concentrated tomatoes which are especially rich in Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
Manchester University scientists believe Lycopene is the magic ingredient responsible for preventing sunburn and wrinkles. They believe it works by neutralising the harmful molecules which are produced when the skin is exposed to the sun’s rays. Normally such molecules can cause damage to the skin’s DNA structure leading to premature ageing and skin cancer. Their study found that volunteers who ate five tablespoons of the tomato paste topping over a period of 12 weeks developed skin that was less likely to burn in the sun. They were 33% more protected against sunlight compared to another group who were not given the paste. The effect was equivalent to using sun protection with a SPF rating of 1.3, although scientists stressed that people should not think that tomatoes could in any way replace sun creams. They are just simply an addional weapon to be used alongside suncreams and shading, to protect against sunburn and skin cancer. The paste also appeared to counteract the signs of ageing, as levels of procollagen, a molecule which helps the skin stay supple and young looking, were boosted by the diet. Interesting.