You know the drill. Before you go out in the sun, you should lather on the sunscreen and wear protective clothing, head covers and sunglasses; you should also limit your time out in the middle of the day, all to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun. While those are all excellent ways to keep your skin safe, there is something else you can do that can protect your skin from sun damage by working inside your body – and it’s all about what you put on your plate. Certain UV-protecting, whole foods can help delay the aging process, protect you from long-term skin damage and even fight cancer. Who would have thought you could shop for sun protection in the produce aisle of your local grocery store or farmers market? Here is what to look for:
One food that provides sun protection is olive oil. It is filled with healthy fats such as omega 3s and vitamin E that work to keep skin safe. Fresh olives also provide the same benefit.
Foods rich in beta-carotene
A number of foods that provide super sun protection are those that are rich in beta-carotene. Carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes all fit the bill when it comes to protecting your skin and eyes from sun damage.
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, sunflower seeds and pistachios, are high in vitamin E, which can protect cells from sun damage and keep skin soft, clear and blemish-free.
Foods that contain lycopene and flavanols, like tomatoes, as well as eggplant and black beans, are rich in flavanols that can help protect your skin from sun damage.
Soy products, such as tofu, edamame, soy milk and tempeh contain isoflavones which boost collagen, delay the onset of wrinkles and protect against skin cancer. Tofu is also high in other vitamins, including vitamin E.
Broccoli and friends
The sulphraphone in broccoli and its close relatives Brussels sprouts, cabbage and bok choy, provide anti-cancerous benefits and can protect skin cells from free radicals.
Foods rich in omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids can do wonders for your skin. Besides helping to keep skin taut, glowing and acne-free, they can lower the risk of skin cancer and keep skin safe from free radicals.
The flavonoids epicatechins, catechins, and procyandins found in dark chocolates, are high in antioxidants that provide protection from sun damage and also have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Red delicious apples
Certain compounds in the skin of red delicious apples called triterpenoids, are found to block cancer cells and lower the risk of the disease.
Green and black tea
Polyphenols found in green and black tea, protect against UV radiation. These antioxidants have cancer-fighting and anti-aging benefits and help to keep skin firm, healthy and beautiful. Drinking two or more cups a day may reduce your risk of skin cancer by 30 percent.
Vitamin C-rich fruits
Vitamin C fights to prevent cancer cells from forming within the body and can boost collagen production in the skin. It also helps to delay signs of aging. Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin C are strawberries, oranges and kiwi (which has more vitamin C than any other fruit).
Not only does eating watermelon help to keep you hydrated on hot summer days, it also is packed with vitamins A and C and lycopene that has been shown to protect cells from UV damage.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard contain free-radical fighting antioxidants that protect you from the sun. Add an olive oil-based dressing and you will enjoy a double dose of sun protection.
How convenient it is that just when we are likely to spend more time outdoors soaking up the summer sun, many of nature’s own dietary sunscreens come into season and are readily available at your neighborhood fruit stand or supermarket. Not only are these skin-saving superheroes plentiful and delicious, they are all excellent additions to a healthy, balanced diet.