You may be well aware of the importance of applying sunscreen on your skin, but did you know that eating certain foods can help protect you from within? UV rays can damage the DNA within our skin to age it prematurely. These sun-smart superfoods will help reduce your risk for sunburn, help prevent premature aging and give your skin a healthy, youthful glow. Use them in addition to, not instead of, your usual sun protection. They’re also deliciously suited for these hot summer days…so get glowing!
Leafy Green Veggies such as spinach, kale and collards contain a healthy dose of the phyto-chemicals lutein and zeaxanthin. Both nutrients help to reduce your risk for sunburn and protect you from sunlight-induced free radical damage.[i] Lutein and zeaxanthin also help protect your eyesight from the damaging rays of the sun.[ii]
Tomatoes are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory lycopene; consuming lycopene regularly will help to block UV rays from penetrating your skin and reduce the deep skin tissue damage caused by the sun.[iii] To ensure optimal absorption of lycopene, eat cooked tomato products and combine them with a source of healthy fat like extra-virgin olive oil.
Carrots contain beta-carotene, which has been found to bolster the skin’s UV defences after a few months of use and protect overall skin health and appearance.[iv]
Citrus Fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges contain limonene which helps prevent sun damage; consuming the peel may help reduce your risk for skin cancer by up to 34 percent![v] Citrus peel can be added to salsas, soups, salads, dressings or anything that needs some zesty flavour. To prepare it, simply use a grater or veg peeler to remove the peel of clean, organic citrus. Use fresh, or dry the peel on a plate to crumble for a recipe or place it in the freezer for later.
Green Tea EGCG is a potent antioxidant found naturally in green tea; drinking two cups a day can help prevent UV light from damaging your cells’ DNA.[vi] For a refreshing sun-fighting super drink, try boiling green tea in water, with sliced lemons and a dash of stevia; let it cool and serve over ice.
Wild Pacific Salmon is an excellent source of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids and the wild variety is also rich in an antioxidant called astaxanthin. Both omega-3s and astaxanthin help to reduce the risk for sunburn and may protect against the type of DNA changes that can lead to skin cancer.[vii]
Garlic has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which help protect your skin from sun damage. Plus the caffeic acid, S-allyl cysteine, and uracil found in garlic may help to prevent sun-induced wrinkles and accelerated skin aging.[viii]
Turmeric Adding this bright yellow spice (used in Indian cooking) into your daily diet may help protect your skin from UVB radiation. According to a study published in the Phytomedicine Journal (2009), high doses of this spice may also prevent skin thickening, support skin elasticity, decrease the appearance of skin blood vessels and prevent the formation of new wrinkles.[ix]
Cherries contain the potent antioxidant melatonin, which helps to prevent UV-induced damage to your skin and also scavenges free radicals caused by sun exposure. The wound-healing, anti-inflammatory properties of melatonin, combined with the vitamin-C contained in cherries may also help to increase collagen production and hasten skin healing post sunburn.[x]
Crimini Mushrooms are one of the richest natural food sources of selenium. This is helpful because your body uses selenium to make the super-antioxidant glutathione peroxidase and glutathione helps to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UVA radiation.[xi]
[i], [ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19168000