Sunscreen you can eat

February 23, 2012

Food, Skin

While a good topical sunscreen and a fashionable floppy hat are always advised, diet can also protect your skin.

by Rima Mehta — 

Summer is here, and folks are trading the indoors for sunshine and any patch of grass they can find. Some are even seeking more creative and holistic ways to protect themselves from harsh sun exposure. Studies have shown that certain food nutrients can act as a type of sunscreen.

While a good topical sunscreen and a fashionable floppy hat are always advised, diet can also protect your skin. Certain antioxidants may help prevent some skin problems, including cancer, and may also help improve the health and appearance of your hair and nails.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that damage cells. Free radicals contribute to wrinkles, other signs of aging and possibly skin cancer. Vitamins A, C and E, as well as lycopene, flavonoids and beta-carotene, are antioxidants that play important roles in preventing premature aging of the skin.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite sun-blocking foods that taste delicious and help to give your skin the extra protection that it needs during the summer months.

  • Leafy greens: High in lutein, leafy greens can help protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, caused by sun-induced inflammation and extended sun exposure.
  • Watermelon and tomatoes: These fruits are rich in lycopene, a bright red carotenoid that has been shown to protect the skin from harmful UV damage. Watermelon can also help reduce the risk of skin cancer.
  • Wild salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish appear to offer protection against non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • Oranges, lemons and limes: These citrus fruits contain limonene, which is highly concentrated in the rind. Studies show that the presence of limonene in the body can reduce the risk of skin cancer by 30 percent.
  • Green tea: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea, has been shown to protect rodents’ skin from UV damage.
  • Cocoa: Chocolate has become recognized as an antioxidant-rich food that can help shield the skin against sun damage.

 

Rima Mehta is a nutrition educator and registered yoga teacher. She is also a freelance writer specializing in nutrition and wellness, yoga and fitness. 480-326-0138 or rima@theeasynutrition.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2011.

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