Did you know that UV rays from the sun can damage skin cell’s deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA? This can lead to wrinkles, rough skin, skin sagging, brown spots, and skin cancer. You may seek out topical sunscreens as one way to protect the skin from UV damage, but not only do they not provide complete protection, many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that can actually increase your risk of cancer. The safety of natural mineral sunscreens even cause some concern. Fortunately, eating certain foods can increase your skin’s defenses against the sun in a safe way. “Sunscreen foods” contain antioxidants that neutralize the effects of UV rays, preventing skin damage, and can actually help repair existing skin damage. By eating the right foods, you can look younger and have healthier skin. Here are the top 5 foods to eat to protect your skin:
Green Tea: Green tea is rich in polyphenols (potent antioxidants). Research has shown that people who drink green tea have less skin color changes after sun exposure, softer skin, better skin elasticity, and better blood flow to the skin versus people who do not drink green tea. And, a 2011 study published in the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications journal found that EGCG (a type of catechin) in green tea prevents a type of skin cancer called melanoma by inhibiting genes that activate inflammation.Drink at least a cup of green tea a day to get skin protection benefits.
Tomato Paste: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their bright red color. This phytonutrient protects tomatoes from shriveling up under the sun while on the vine, and it also protects human skin from UV damage. You can get lycopene from eating raw tomatoes, but you get a higher concentration of it by eating tomato paste. Although research has found that people who eat 5 tablespoons of tomato paste a day have 33 percent increased protection from the sun versus people who do not eat tomato paste, I do not know of anyone who will find this appetizing. Therefore, it may be more pleasing to the palate to simply take lycopene supplements, found in health food stores, to boost your daily intake. Eating all-natural ketchup and spaghetti sauce will, also, do the trick.
Raspberries: As mentioned above, UV exposure leads to wrinkles, skin roughness, and a reduction in skin elasticity also causing the production of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase enzymes), which breaks down collagen in the skin. Raspberries contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which blocks the production of MMP enzymes. These vitamin C-rich berries help fight off DNA damage to skin cells.
Dark Chocolate: Not milk chocolate! Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols that protect the skin from UV damages. Researchers found that people who ate dark chocolate could stay in the sun twice as long without sunburn than those who did not eat dark chocolate. The key is to look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa for the most skin protection.
Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the skin after exposure to UV rays and help preserve the body’s ability to fight off skin cancer. It is best to eat a handful of raw, organic walnuts a day to boost your body’s skin cancer fighting abilities.
For best results, eat some of these sun-damage-fighting foods on a daily basis. Besides the UV protection benefits, they also contain nutrients and antioxidants that benefit your entire body, so it’s a win-win!
Have you found a natural alternative to protect your skin from the sun? If so, please share in the comments, below.