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7 Surprising Foods That Can Protect Your Skin From The Sun

By Dr. Michael Richardson
Updated May 15, 2017

If you enjoy eating natural foods and spending time outdoors in hot weather, you can take advantage of the added bonus of skin protection from the sun that many of these foods provide.

Research on several fruits, vegetables, seeds and herbs shows that the natural composition of these delicious treats can boost your skin’s resistance to sunburn, sun damage, inflammation, cancer cell growth and more. Consume foods with skin-protecting ingredients on a regular basis, and you can go to the beach or pool, attend outdoor parties and play outdoor sports with some extra peace of mind. Learn some surprising facts about seven organic foods that not only taste great, but also shield your epidermis from the sun’s powerful rays.

1. Try Tomatoes To Guard Against Radiation And Sunburn

Beneficial Ingredients: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant and carotenoid that helps to guard your skin from both sunburn and sun damage. Lycopene acts as an anti-inflammatory agent when your skin has been exposed to UV rays, and it also protects against long-term damage by neutralizing any free radicals from excess sun exposure. Eat tomatoes to reduce redness from sunburn as well.

Studies: A study in which nine participants ate tomato paste with olive oil for a 10-week period resulted in a significant reduction in skin redness caused by UV light as compared to a control group.

Preparation: Cooked tomatoes are the most effective in regard to offering sun protection. Try eating about four to five tablespoons of tomato soup, paste, sauce or juice on a daily basis. Choose tomatoes that are a rich red in color to receive optimum lycopene benefits.

2. Crunch On Carrots To Reverse Sun Damage

Beneficial Ingredients: Another carotenoid, beta carotene, is the chief component in carrots with the capability of both preventing and reversing skin cell damage caused by too much sunshine. Just 30 milligrams of beta carotene daily, consumed over a three-month period, can repair free radical damage and photoaging. Combine carrots with a source of vitamin E to decrease the risk of sunburn or soothe reddened skin.

Studies: Research on various herbs and plants that protect the skin from UV radiation examined the anti-inflammatory benefits of carrots.

Preparation: Carrots can be enjoyed either raw or cooked when you are seeking to keep your skin safe from the sun. For best results, aim to eat several carrots each day. Bake them in sea salt and olive oil for a tasty snack.

3. Consider Citrus Fruits To Reduce Skin Cancer

Beneficial Ingredients: Grapefruits, oranges, limes and lemons are packed full of vitamin C, which lowers the likelihood of sunburn. Citrus fruits are also a beneficial source of limonene, which can decrease your chances of developing skin cancer by more than 30 percent when consumed steadily over time. Pair citrus fruits with foods containing vitamin E to achieve peak protection against the effects of sun damage.

Studies: A study performed in the 1990s examined the potential of limonene in citrus fruit peel as a deterrent of skin cancer.

Preparation: Vitamin C and limonene work best to protect your skin from sun damage and the potential of cancerous lesions when consumed long-term, so prepare yourself a mixed citrus fruit salad as often as possible. Add in other fruits, such as strawberries and kiwi, for extra vitamin C.

4. Pick Pomegranates To Keep Your Skin Safe From UVA/UVB Rays

Beneficial Ingredients: There’s a reason why pomegranates have been valued for their health benefits since ancient Egyptian times: they are chock-full of amazing ingredients, including several that provide skin protection in strong sunlight. Pomegranates contain ellagic acid and glutathione, both of which discourage cell damage from forming due to UVA/UVB ray exposure. Eat this fruit for its myriad antioxidant properties as well so that your skin stays healthy.

Studies: Pomegranate extract was thoroughly tested in several studies for its effectiveness in preventing skin cancer from sun damage.

Preparation: In addition to eating pomegranates themselves, you can reap the skin protection rewards of this exotic fruit by taking pomegranate extract or drinking pomegranate juice daily. Try infusing pomegranate juice with water or green tea for an added boost of sun safety.

5. Fix Flaxseed Recipes To Boost Skin Moisture And Prevent Inflammation

Beneficial Ingredients: Flaxseed encourages organic skin protection from cancer, inflammation, irritation and sunburn thanks to the healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids that it supplies. Eat flaxseed if you are also looking for an easy way to keep your skin thoroughly moisturized. You need only two tablespoons of flaxseed or flaxseed oil daily to help your skin boost its sun damage-resistant properties.

Studies: Research on omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated a reduced risk of skin cancer after sun exposure.

Preparation: Sprinkle flaxseed into yogurt or cereal, or add it to baked goods in order to keep your skin hydrated and ready to take on the sun’s rays. You can also opt to use flaxseed oil as an ingredient in fruit or vegetable smoothies.

6. Select Sweet Potatoes To Fight Free Radicals

Beneficial Ingredients: Like carrots, sweet potatoes are ideal for integrating into your sun protection routine because they are high in beta carotene. Indulge in sweet potato-based recipes so that your body can effectively neutralize free radical particles from sun rays, which in turn keeps your skin condition stable. As an antioxidant, beta carotene is a proven fighter against skin cancer, sunburn and other types of sun damage.

Studies: Beta carotene was examined as a sun protection agent in various studies.

Preparation: Sweet potatoes are wonderfully versatile, and you can get the beta carotene you need to protect your skin by eating this vegetable in pureed, roasted, baked or grilled form. Experiment by preparing healthy baked sweet potato fries or grilled sweet potato chips.

7. Get Green Tea For A Multi-Faceted Approach To Sun Protection

Beneficial Ingredients: Green tea contains a range of components that keep the surface of your skin safe during prolonged sun exposure. Tannic acid relieves any pain from sunburn that you might experience. Catechins work to prevent UVA/UVB radiation damage and skin inflammation. Polyphenols, or plant compounds, reduce blood supply to areas where skin cancer is prone to form. EGCGs, a type of antioxidant, prevent genetic damage to skin cells that come into contact with UV rays.

Studies: Research supports green tea’s effectiveness at protection from the sun.

Pin It Preparation: With its delightfully mild taste and very low-calorie content, green tea is great for drinking as often as you’d like for giving your skin an all-around defense against sun damage. Aim to drink at least two cups of green tea per day.

Keep in mind that you should supplement the natural skin protection offered by these foods with a gentle sunscreen whenever you plan to be out in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Try a sunscreen formulation made with physical UVA/UVB blockers such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These mineral ingredients are ideal for sensitive skin and do not cause the stinging or burning sensations that sometimes occur with the use of chemical sunscreens.

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Katherine Hurst
By Dr. Michael Richardson
Passionate about sharing the latest scientifically sound health, fitness and nutrition advice and information, Dr Richardson received his Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and a Bachelor Degree from New Jersey University. He has since gone on to specialize in sports nutrition, weight management and helping his patients to heal physical ailments by making changes to their eating habits and lifestyles.

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