Did you know that the right foods can boost your skin’s sun protection?
Don’t get me wrong. These foods are NOT a substitute for sunscreen (nothing is). But they give it a huge helping hand.
Foods rich in antioxidants give you skin the building blocks to strengthen its natural UV defenses, from the inside out. You know what that means? Couple them with a mineral, broad spectrum sunscreen and you won’t have to worry about pesky things like sunburns and wrinkles anymore.
But how do you know what are the right foods to munch on? Here are the foods to add to your shoppist list to boost your skin’s natural sun protection:
1. Citrus Fruits
Oranges & co aren’t just for colds. The entire citrus family is loaded with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that destroys free radicals and boosts collagen production, keeping those pesky wrinkles away from your skin. Add vitamin E to the mix and C becomes unstoppable. Studies show that, together, these vitamins increase photoprotection and reduce the potential for sunburns. Why not add a few slices of lemon or lime to your water? There’s nothing like it to refresh you on a hot summer day.
Wondering where to get your vitamin E fix now? Almonds are the perfect candidate. Studies show they have so much vitamin E, eating only 20 a day is enough to boost sun protection and reduce sunburns. Bonus points: almonds also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that protects against UV damage and collagen breakdown. Keep a bunch at hand to snack on during the day. And don’t forget to add them to your beach bag!
3. Red Grapes
Almonds ain’t the only source of quercetin. Red grapes have their fair share of this antioxidant, too. A study published by Toxicology and Applied Farmacology found that quercetin reduces oxidative DNA damage caused UV rays and protects cells from decay. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The seeds are also loaded with ponyphenols, a group of antioxidants that inhibits UV-induced skin cancer. They’re literally a life saver!
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce UV-induced free radicals by up to 50%! Like that weren’t enough, lycopene also minimizes the inflammatory response to UV damage. Translation: it helps prevent wrinkles and skin cancer. Just make sure you cook it first. Lycopene is one of the few antioxidants that becomes more bioavailable (easier to use for your body) cooked instead of raw. Eating 5 tablespoons of tomato sauce a day is more than enough to get its sun protection benefits.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is an acquired taste… but one worth acquiring. Don’t believe me? Research has shown that the polyphenols in green tea (and EGCGs in particular) boost your natural sun’s protection, reduce sunburn redness and protect you from UV-induced inflammation and long-term damage. The catch? You need to drink at least two cups a day to reap all its photoprotective benefits.
Deliciously juicy, the ruby seeds of pomegranates are more precious than jewels for your skin. They’re chockfull of ellagic acid, which protects skin cells from the harmful sun’s rays. Used with sunscreen, research shows, pomegranate extract can increase its SPF by up to 25%! And it inhibits pigmentation, too. Toss those pomegranate seeds in your salad at lunch and you’re covered.
P.S. Pomegranate juice doesn’t count. Without the seeds, there’s no fiber. The juice converts quickly to sugar, causing glycation (a process that gives you wrinkles). Eat the seeds!
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Come on, you knew this was coming. Everyone loves to hate on broccoli and Brussel sprouts but their high antioxidant content makes them a godsend for your skin. Not only do they keep wrinkles off your face for longer but sulforaphane (a major antioxidant in cruciferous vegetables) also protects your skin against UV radiation. I’m partial to cauliflower. It’s also loaded with histidine, which stimulates your body to produce more urocanic acid, a natural photoprotective. Toss a few pieces of cauliflower into your fresh salad, or use in place of rice or potato in your favorite dishes.
Don’t take any risks this summer. Pile on your sunscreen, munch on foods that boost your skin’s sun protection and enjoy the outdoors. Safely.