The NHANES study found that women who had diets high in vitamin C had fewer lines and wrinkles. Good to know, but what does that mean in terms of real food? I started to look into vitamin C rich foods, and discovered that tomatoes offered a great nutritional package. In the US, over half of our daily vitamin C intake is from tomatoes. In addition to being essential for the formation of wrinkle- busting collagen, vitamin C is also a uber anti-oxidant that protects against aging free radicals. And the benefits don’t stop there. From the tiny cherry tomatoes to the giant beefsteak, tomatoes are packed with potassium, beta carotene and disease protecting lutein and lycopene. Even the skin of a tomato is super rich in quercetin, a much studied anti-aging anti-oxidant. And what’s really awsome, every form of a tomato is rich in nutrients. Raw tomatoes are rich in vitamin c and beta carotene. Tomato soups and sauces are bursting with even higher levels in lycopene and lutein.
I have focused on the beauty benefits of foods, but I can’t ignore the health benefits of tomatoes. They are a major component of the Mediterranean diet and many experts believe that tomaotes play an important role in the studies which show the Med diet lowers risk of heart disease and cancer. Other well designed studies have shown that tomatoes reduce risk of prostate and pancreatic cancers. And one final fact– combining tomaotes with a little olive oil helps the body better absorb its nutrients. I can almost make the case for pizza as a health food. Almost.