Tomato juice can be better than energy drinks at helping the body recover from exercise, a new research has found.

Tomatoes provide vital chemicals to help muscles recover and blood levels return to normal after being stretched and strained, experts say.

A number of health institutions in Greece conducted tests on 15 athletes over a period of two months, looking at vital signs before, during and after exercise.

Nine of the athletes drank tomato juice after exercise and six consumed their regular fizzy energy drink.

Those drinking tomato juice had quicker levels of muscle recovery and their glucose levels returned to normal faster after strenuous exercise, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene, which principally give them their deep-red colour.

Anti-oxidants in tomatoes are already known to combat cancer, heart disease and other ailments.

In the study, led by researchers at the General Chemical State Laboratory of Greece, harmful levels of enzymes and proteins which contribute to muscle and brain damage returned to normal quicker in those athletes who drank tomato juice after exercise.

The researchers said tomato juice was so effective that people with higher levels of harmful proteins could benefit in just two months.

The study was published in journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.