Whether you’ve buckled down for the ultimate beach body or just plan to sip piña coladas poolside, the key ingredient for summer is sun. But it’s no secret that too much of a good thing can have troubling consequences and the sun is no exception. UVA and UVB rays can increase your risk of skin cancer, skin aging and lead to wrinkling of your body’s largest and most visible organ. Protection from the sun can be a life or death decision. With annual diagnosis rates topping 2 million, skin cancer has fast become the leading form of cancer in the US. Typically, saving your skin means layering on the lotion or spray and hoping you haven’t missed that tricky spot. But what if you could protect your entire skin by eating your sunscreen? Tanya Zucherbrot, registered dietitian, nutrition news contributor and the creator of F-Factor Diet isn’t advising that you gulp down a swallow of SPF 30, but she does suggest that certain foods can provide natural protection from those harmful UV rays.
Zucherbrot proposes that eating certain foods containing antioxidants, will help to fight free radical damage caused by the sun. So what’s the best way to snack to save your skin? Zucherbrot recommends that you stick to the summer favorites. Blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, apples and tomatoes are all high in antioxidants that help skin stay radiant and resistant to damage. Even cooked tomatoes can have healthy benefits for your skin. Looking for a cocktail to cool you off? Studies show that swapping the margarita for a glass of red wine can help your skin fight off the sun’s effects. Best of all, you don’t have to cut out the sweets. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate a moderate amount of chocolate had less sun damage than those who didn’t. Zucherbrot says that an ounce of dark chocolate can contain enough of the antioxidant polyphenol to help prevent sun damage and improve skin elasticity. By harnessing the protecting power in these foods you can help your skin avoid the sting of a summer burn.
But what if you forgot to eat your tomatoes and instead wind up looking like one? Don’t panic! There is a food for that too. Zucherbrot recommends eating foods rich in vitamins C and E to help reduce swelling associated with sunburns. Additionally, papaya is excellent for reducing inflammation caused by burns because of its vitamin intake. Foods such as avocados, peanut butter and ground flax seeds are all rich in Vitamin E which helps soothe your sore skin.
So no matter how you plan to have fun in the sun, slice up the watermelon, keep the ketchup flowing, and choose your snacks for the sake of your skin.