We’re told that we need to wear sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin damage, but most sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to our health. Instead, have you ever thought about eating your sunscreen? There are a wide array of foods that offer sun protection, and most of them are easily available in the summertime. ‘Cause Nature is smart like that.
Include these top foods for sun protection in your diet to receive a healthy dose of nutrients that can help arm your skin against the sun.
Blueberries, and all berries for that matter, are a rich source of antioxidants. Sunlight exposes us to UV radiation, but the free radical-fighting properties of antioxidant foods help to protect us from that sun damage.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds, including walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds, are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help our skin maintain its integrity, keeping it smooth, strong and supple. Omega 3s are also highly anti-inflammatory, so these foods can help with healing if a sunburn occurs.
Carrots and Red Bell Peppers
Carrot and red bell peppers are both high in beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into Vitamin A, a nutrient that supports vision, skin, and mucosal healing. Research shows that beta-carotene shields us from sunburn; however, these sun-protective effects kick in after a minimum of 10 weeks of consuming beta-carotene, so start chowing down on these veggies stat!
Gorgeous tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours are abundant in the summertime for good reason – their concentration of the pigment lycopene helps to protect us from sunburns. Studies have found that research participants who ate tomato paste daily for 10 weeks were much less susceptible to sunburns than groups who hadn’t consumed tomato paste.
Now you have another reason to enjoy the bounty of tomatoes this summer, don’t you think?
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy green vegetables are an incredible source of antioxidants, which can help offset the damage from UV rays. Studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin – specific antioxidants found in greens – prevent skin wrinkles and protect us from the sun. Research also shows that eating dark leafy greens can decrease our risk of skin cancer.
If you’re looking for another reason to eat more chocolate, here it is: the antioxidants found in cacao powder help prevent sun damage. In one study, women who were given a high-flavanol chocolate beverage for 12 weeks were less sensitive to UV radiation than women who consume a low-flavanol beverage. This same study showed that consuming chocolate improved blood flow to the skin, as well as enhanced skin texture and structure. Score!
More Awesome Sun Protective Resources
- Groundbreaking Discovery: Animal Cells Powered by Sunlight and Chlorophyll
- EWG 2015 Guide to Sunscreen
- Sun Protection: Safe Sunscreens, Best Foods, Healthy Sun Exposure Tips