Prevent Sun Damage by Eating These Sun Protective Foods
Summer is officially underway! In Austin, that means it’s time to get out to Barton Springs pool, SUP on Lady Bird Lake, or hike your favorite trail.
Unfortunately, summer also means heightened UV Indexes. Spending more time outdoors doing your favorite activities can make your skin more susceptible to UV-induced damage like sunburns, photo-aging, and even skin cancer.
You probably already know that practicing sun safety during the summer is extremely important. Using a high quality broad spectrum sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing, and avoiding direct sunlight between peak UV hours (usually 10:00 am – 3:00 pm) are imperative. However, did you know that selecting certain foods can contribute to sun safety as well?
Adding the following foods to your regular diet this summer can help contribute to the protection of your skin from sun damage and skin cancer (note: this diet should not replace the regular use of sunscreen):
Red Apples: The skin of a Red Delicious apple contains a chemical compound called triterpenoids which can kill or block cancer cells.
Almonds: High in skin protectant vitamin E, almonds are a tasty way to defend against sun damage. Vitamin E has also been shown to slow the aging rate of skin cells and diminish the appearance of scars on the skin.
Carrots: Full of beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps to protect and repair skin cells from photo aging, carrots can help your skin recover after being exposed to UV rays.
Flax Seeds: These seeds may be little but they can pack a big punch! Flax seeds are high in natural sun protectant omega-3 fatty acids.
Watermelon: Besides being a sweet and cool treat perfect for summer, watermelon contains Lycopene; a phytochemical that prevents skin aging caused by UV exposure. Lycopene can also prevent wrinkle development and strengthen skin elasticity.
Tomatoes: Also high in Lycopene, tomatoes can provide long-term protection from UV rays. One study by the Journal of British Dermatology found that individuals who ate 4 tablespoons of tomato paste in olive oil daily were more protected from sunburns than subjects who consumed olive oil alone.
Sweet Potato: Want to eat your way to smooth and youthful looking skin? Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C, which can help to stimulate collagen production. Sweet potatoes (like carrots) also have a fair amount of skin protecting beta-carotene.
Dark Veggies: Veggies that are darker in color tend to have higher antioxidant values, which can help the skin reverse free-radical damage. So look for darker red radishes, darker green lettuce, and dark yellow or green peppers.
Kiwis: Vitamin C has been shown to help block the development of cancerous cells. Vitamin C can also work to destroy free radicals. While you can get vitamin C in oranges or strawberries, there is no fruit higher in Vitamin C than the Kiwi.
Dark Chocolate / Red Wine: We saved the best for last! Both dark chocolate and red wine contain flavonoids, an antioxidant that protects the skin from sun damage.