Five sun-protection foods that promote healthy summer skin by offering protection from the sun inside out.
Although we spend a lot of time indoors and are using more sunblock than ever before, skin cancer has become the most common cancer in the United States and Australia. In the U.S. alone, skin cancer has risen by 77% (between 1992 -2006), and it is still increasing by 4% annually. While a topical, broad-spectrum SPF is the first and most important line of defense against sun damage, certain sun-protection foods can help build up your body's natural protection as they pack in potent UV-protecting nutrients such as vitamin C and beta-carotene that not only offer natural sun protection but also help treat damaged skin.
Add these five sun-protection foods to your grocery list to prevent sun-damaged skin:
Blueberries are rich in powerful antioxidants that fight off free radicals. These free radicals can lead to damaged skin due to sun exposure and stress. Blueberries are however considered more powerful if they are a wild variety. They are also a great source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that works to prevent wrinkles from a day out in the sun or on the beach.
The antioxidant-rich ingredients in green tea contain skin protective and cell regenerative properties. These antioxidants help with sun protection by shielding the body from harmful free radicals found in our everyday environment. They bind to free radicals, neutralizing them before they can cause harm. EGCG is another antioxidant found in abundance in green tea that offers sun protection and works as a natural sunscreen. Research has shown that EGCG can reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals, and help to promote healthy cellular life cycles. Moreover, it treats damaged skin by enhancing your skin’s ability to repair itself.
Tomatoes contain science-backed benefits for sun protection. It is rich in lycopene, a carotenoid known for its antioxidant properties. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that foods rich in lycopene, a plant-based pigment with antioxidant properties, can minimize the severity of sunburn while enhancing the moisture and elasticity of the skin. Research has also shown that tomatoes cooked in olive oil may increase the absorption of lycopene. Another study in The Journal of Nutrition found that this sun-protection food has been found to shield the skin against UV light-induced erythema, or skin reddening.
This sun-protection food contains sun-shielding lycopene that absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation. According to a study, it has 40 times more lycopene than tomatoes. Furthermore, it is at least twice as effective an antioxidant as beta carotene in blocking UV light. Lycopene can also help treat damaged skin by providing sun protection protecting the skin cells from the sun’s burning rays and preventing wrinkles. Watermelon has the added benefit of being more hydrating than most fruits which makes it the perfect fruit for treating damaged skin and maintaining a healthy complexion.
Dark leafy greens are an incredible source of antioxidants like beta-carotene. These antioxidants help offset the skin damage from UV rays. Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which is vital for skin health. A 2007 meta-analysis found that beta carotene provided natural sun protection after 10 weeks of regular supplementation. Leafy greens like moringa are great sun-protection foods as they are also high in other antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that are known to protect the skin against wrinkling, sun damage and even skin cancer.