Sun Protective Foods

flaxseedIt’s almost summertime and hopefully for most of you that means time at the beach, and lots of outdoor activities. Sun safety is an important topic- if you have ever had a bad sunburn, you know how painful it can be. Photoaging is also something to consider if you spend lots of time outdoors- a huge percentage of of wrinkles are due to sun exposure and damage.

For comprehensive skin protection, I suggest you:

  • incorporate the use of topical antioxidants in your skin care regimen to decrease UV-induced free radical damage
  • wear sun protective clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time
  • try to avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 11 AM and 3 PM because that is when the sun’s damaging rays are the strongest always opt for a a chemical-free sunscreen

And most importantly, fight with your fork! Choose from the following foods and eat your way to sun protection, as these guys pack a powerful punch against sun damage from the inside out.

Almonds have a lot of vitamin E, which helps defend against sun damage. One study showed that volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light burned less than those who took none.

These little seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants in one study who consumed about half a teaspoon of omega-3s over 6 weeks experienced significantly less skin irritation and redness, as well as better-hydrated skin.

Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes watermelon red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet light. Besides helping to prevent sunburns, lycopene can also help prevent wrinkles. It strengthens the elasticity of skin tissues while keeping them from losing their tension.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C which smoothes out wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that volunteers who consumed 4 milligrams of vitamin C (about half a small sweet potato) daily for 3 years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent.

Leafy Greens
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who ate the most leafy greens had half as many skin tumors over 11 years as those who ate the least. The folate in these healing greens helps maintain and repair DNA, which reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth.

Green Tea
Green tea releases catechin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Research has found that drinking 2 to 6 cups a day of green tea helps prevent skin cancer. Topical green tea formulations have also been found to be protective from sun damage.

Grapes are full of proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to prevent UV damage and tumor development in hairless mice. If you are planing to lounge around the pool, have someone feed you grapes!

Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries have been found to inhibit compounds that induce UV damage. Grab a handful of berries before you head outside this summer.

Pomegranates are a great source of ellagic acid. According to research from research from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University ellagic acid can help protect your skin from UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage.

One guava contains about 5 times as much vitamin C as a medium sized orange. Vitamin C is a potent free-radical fighting antioxidant which can prevent premature aging, as well as skin cancer.