Tomatoes straight from the vine are packed with the goodness of months of sunlight. They also help protect us from that sunlight because they are a rich source of beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, which helps to protect skin against sun damage.
Most of the interest around the health benefits of tomatoes focuses on lycopene. Lycopene is the natural substance (part of the carotenoid group) responsible for the deep red colour in many foods, including tomatoes. A powerful antioxidant, it has been shown to be protective against prostate cancer.
Lycopene may also make skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading contributor to fine lines and wrinkles. Tomatoes look like the chambers of the heart when sliced into quarters and research has shown tomatoes contain heart-protective substances. Ripe red tomatoes contain more lycopene than the paler varieties.
This easy recipe for a summer tomato soup highlights the flavour of the tomato at the peak of its season, with delicious herbs to give it extra zing.