Summers are the best time to load up on some vitamin D, which is essential for long-term health. Though sun exposure may scare away many, it is important to note that it is the best and the most inexpensive/effortless way of adding vitamin D to your body. Sun exposure becomes unhealthy and may cause skin damage or in worse cases, skin cancer, only when the skin is excessively exposed to the UV rays.
Going by the conventional wisdom, all you have to do is slather on a little sunscreen and cover up your body to prevent sun rays getting to you. However, this does not guarantee sun protection and you may still end up with sunburns or skin problems.
Did you know some foods can boost your body’s sun defense abilities?
Include these super foods in your diet and you will never again burn a hole in your pocket, or skin while stepping out in the sun. Your very own sun protection arsenal!
There are certain key nutrients you can get from some foods, which can help you shield against harmful sun rays and prevent skin damage. To boost your body’s natural sun defense ability, you should be adding more of omega-3 fatty acids, good saturated fats, and antioxidants like beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamin E. Here’s a list of such food items which are rich in these nutrients and work as a natural sunscreen…
1. Citrus fruits.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lime, and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Together with vitamin E, they can reduce the possibility of sunburn to a great extent. These fruits also contain limonene, which according to a study by the University of Arizona, is associated with 34 percent reduced risk of skin cancer.
Almonds are excellent sources of vitamin E. Besides, they are also rich in quercetin, a flavonoid known to fight UV damage.
Loaded with antioxidants, some scientists believe that pomegranates can impede the growth of cancer cells. Besides, they are known to possess the ability to “enhance skin’s sun-protective properties by 25 percent”, as per dermatologist Howard Murad.
Cold water fish like trout, salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel and rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and can protect you from sun damage.
5. Flax seeds.
Flax seeds are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and can protect you from sunburn and skin cancer. It can also reduce inflammation in case you do end up with sunburn.
6. Dark chocolate.
Thank god for chocolates! If this heavenly item was any less tasty, its amazing health benefits – including the one that adds to your skin health and provides protection against sunburn – will definitely make you a fan.
7. Broccoli and leafy greens.
Besides beta-carotene, most of the greens are rich in folic acid, and vitamins A, C and E. Green leafy veggies like kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce have high levels of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to halt cell growth triggered by UV light in animal studies. Broccoli, especially the sprout, is an excellent source of sulforaphane, a compound that keeps skin cancer risk at bay.
8. Red grapes.
Proanthocyanidins and other polyphenols present in grape seeds are known to inhibit skin cancer caused by UV rays. A study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology revealed that quercetin – found in grapes – can lessen oxidative DNA damage resulting from UVB exposure and guard the skin against any related inflammation. Also, grapes also contain phytonutrients that can decelerate the formation of destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS) – linked to skin cancer and sun damage – that form in skin cells.
Tomatoes, when cooked, get richer in lycopene, which is an ideal cover against sunburn. Consuming a few tablespoons of tomato paste every day will ensure a significant protection from sun damage.
Turmeric has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic as well as Chinese medicine for its amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Laboratory studies have revealed that turmeric can prevent the epidermal skin cells getting damaged from the ultraviolet B radiation (UB radiation).
High in lycopene, this delicious summer fruit can act as a natural sunscreen for you and keep you safe from the harmful effects of UV rays. In fact, it has 40 percent more lycopene than tomatoes.
12. Green tea.
Green, white, and black teas are loaded with flavonoids like catechins and polyphenols that can protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Green tea is also rich in epigallocatechin–3–gallate (EGCG), which is known to prevent genetic damage in human skin cells. A study by the University of Colorado has found that Matcha, a powdered green tea, is the best among all. The amount of EGCG in matcha is “137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from China Green Tips green tea, and at least three times higher than the largest literature value for other green teas.”
High in essential fatty acids, walnuts guard against sunburn. And they are tasty too!
14. Carrots and red pepper.
Packed with carotenoids, carrots as well as foods which are red, yellow or orange in color, are known to condense the sunburn intensity.
15. Sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes have high levels of beta-carotene and can make for an excellent natural sunscreen. The purple variant of this edible item has an even higher amount of antioxidant pigments like peonidin and cyanidin that add to the UV protection in cosmetic creams.