What do tomatoes have to do with the sun? Well, as it turns out, A LOT!
But first, a little bit about my background, and why I’m interested in food and the sun. The summer of 2011, I had melanoma removed from my left wrist. This was a big wakeup call for me. I thought I was doing everything right. Exercising, eating healthy, and using sunscreen. However, when the surgeon told me that I was young to have such an aggressive cancer and was lucky to be alive, I quickly made some life changes. One of my main focuses in life is nutrition and how I fuel and protect my body. We literally are what we eat. (But that’s another post for another day!)
So, tomatoes. I came across an article about 3 years ago that discussed the protective properties of some foods from the sun and was immediately intrigued. Say what?! Food can help protect you from the sun! How cool! Of course I had to look into it further, and tomatoes just so happen to be one of those foods with sun-protection super powers!
Turns out, there are number of foods that can aid in sun protection. Some of these include: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and salmon. These foods, and a few others, include beta-caratene and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you begin to increase foods rich in these awesome immune boosting abilities in your diet every day, then you will most definitely help your body increase its natural defenses against UV rays and free radicals in the body.
Why am I highlighting tomatoes? Well, for one, we got amazing heirloom tomatoes in our weekly CSA share, and boy were they delicious! They are in season, and it’s time to eat them up! Tomatoes contain lycopene (as do watermelons), which is an antioxidant that also helps rid the body of free radicals. Free radicals cause cell damage and can bring on anything from aging to cancer. Yuck!
There have been studies that state that our bodies are able to absorb more of the benefits of lycopene from cooked tomatoes, such as in a tomatoes paste or sauce. Either way, raw or cooked, you’ll be doing your body a favor. Try sliced tomatoes in a sandwich, on a salad, on homemade pizza with homemade tomatoes sauce, and even in your own vegetable smoothie!
Food really is amazing.