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Tomatoes’ Powerful SPF

Tomatoes’ Powerful SPF

European aristocrats in the 1700s believed they got sick from eating “poison apples,” their name for tomatoes! But, according to sources at the Smithsonian, the fruit wasn’t the culprit; it was the pewter dishes, loaded with lead, on which they were served. The acidity in tomatoes leached the lead from the metal plates and caused illness—and deaths—from lead poisoning.

These days, thankfully, we can focus on tomatoes’ remarkable healing powers—inside and out. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed women who consumed 25 milligrams of the powerful polyphenol lycopene daily boosted levels of the health-protecting hormone adiponectin by nine percent and that reduced their breast cancer risk. (You can get that dose of lycopene from just 1/2 cup of your favorite sauce!) Higher levels of adiponectin also are linked to lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, and prostate, lung and stomach cancer.  

And a study in Scientific Reports reveals that lycopene can help prevent skin damage from the sun. Mice fed a daily diet of 10 percent tomato powder for 35 weeks averaged 50 percent fewer skin cancer tumors when exposed to ultraviolet light, compared to mice that ate no dehydrated tomatoes. One surprise: tangerine-colored tomatoes delivered a higher dose of lycopene than red ones!

So make a nice pasta sauce using extra virgin olive oil or cook up a velvety pot of tomato soup adding onions—not sugar—for sweetness. And remember, cooking tomatoes can unleash lycopene’s health-benefitting powers by over 150 percent.

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