There are many, many stressors that cause wrinkles — sun overexposure, family drama, relationships, problems at the workplace. The election.
But there’s this bit of good cheer: A new study from the British Journal of Dermatology shows that Tuesday pasta night can help protect your face from wrinkles.
Lycopene, a key ingredient found in all varieties of tomatoes, was shown in the research to protect skin against sun-ray-induced damage. The nutrient, which gives tomatoes a vibrant color, also survives in cooked and sun-dried tomatoes and is present in watermelon, papaya, and grapefruit.
In the study, 65 healthy adults were given Lycopene-Rich Tomato Nutrition Complex (TNC) or lutein for 12 weeks, and then were placed on a placebo for an additional 12 weeks. Skin biopsies showed that gene expression responsible for guarding cells against photo-aging and oxidative stress were greater in the group ingesting tomato carotenoids or lutein than in the group that was not. When the adults stopped ingesting the nutrient, the benefits stopped.
Research shows that ultraviolet exposure is the major preventable cause of skin aging, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Between 80 and 90 percent of facial skin aging is attributed to UV rays, and it appears lycopene helps skin build up its protective defenses, almost like a bit of built-in sunscreen.
Alcohol has been known to take a visible toll on skin — but that bloody Mary at Sunday brunch might actually help keep the wrinkles at bay too. “Interestingly, studies have shown that alcohol may lower the skin’s antioxidant levels, and that the vitamin C in the orange juice of screwdrivers may then mitigate the effect vodka has,” says Zeichner. “Perhaps the same is true of lycopene from tomato juice in a bloody Mary,” he adds.
You can also reap the benefits from eating dishes containing tomatoes — raw is absolute best, say our experts, but cooked tomatoes do count as well. Carotenoids are oil-soluble, so eating them with a bit of healthy oil like olive oil, or cooking them in olive oil, is a good way to even increase the strength of their benefits, says Karin Hermoni, category manager at Lycored.
The supplements used in the study were provided by Lycored, and contain several types of tomato phytonutrients, including lycopene and other tomato carotenoids like beta carotene. The effects last as long as you’re regularly ingesting the nutrient — whether you’re noshing it or taking it as a vitamin.
“It’s important to understand that skin health and beauty mirror our overall health, and are influenced by how we live,” says Hermoni. Combining healthy nutrition and an active lifestyle is your best bet for slaying premature wrinkles and having glowing skin, she adds.
Cheers! We’re off to double-dip grilled cheese in tomato soup, and we’ll be sure to walk briskly on the way.