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More Lycopene, Less Skin Damage by Meg Hagar

A study in 2001, published by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences found that consumption of a natural dietary source of lycopene (a very strong antioxidant) can help protect against the swelling caused from sunburns. Although adding more lycopene-rich foods such as tomato paste to your diet is not a replacement for use of sunscreen, it sure does make you want to kick back and drink a cold tomato juice at the beach.

In addition to helping protect against swelling and discomfort caused by sunburn, by including this strong antioxidant in your diet regularly you also can help slow the process of wrinkles. The function of an antioxidant is to neutralize harmful particles called free radicals. These free radicals prevent the skin from breathing. Basically, the skin cannot receive as much oxygen and nutrients as it could with these free radicals in the way, therefore causing wrinkles, spots and other visible damage. Free radicals are particles in the environment as well as produced by our bodies. You can imagine that with these particles being so abundant, our skin must get pretty tired trying to protect itself. We can give it a boost by adding more lycopene-rich foods into our diets.

The top five foods highest in the antioxidant lycopene include tomato paste or sun-dried tomatoes, guava, watermelon, grapefruit and dried parsley or basil. We need around 40 grams (about 1/3 cup) per day to boost skin’s immunity according to the study published by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences mentioned above. Again, the best protection is to use in combination with a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and is re-applied every two hours. Visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s website at for official guidelines on choosing the right sunscreens.

Meg Hagar is a nutritional skincare specialist and owner of the all-natural skincare brand, Skintritious. Her new location, where she offers facials and skincare consultations, is at 52 Millpond Parkway in Monroe. She received her B.S. degree in nutrition from Hunter College in New York City. For more information, contact her at 347- 670-4301 or visit

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