We have a unique relationship with our sun. Its rays provide the warmth and light we need to survive, but too much of those same rays can lead to painful sunburns and skin damage. The good news is, just like the sunscreen lotion you put on to protect your skin, there are also certain foods you can eat that will boost your skin's natural UV blocking properties.
Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which acts like natural sunscreen and protects the skin from harmful UV light. In fact, one German study found that people who consumed 1/3 cup of a tomato paste, like spaghetti sauce or ketchup, with 1/8 cup of olive oil had 40 percent less skin reddening. Additionally, the body seems to absorb lycopene better when it's combined with beta-carotene, which is another antioxidant found in tomatoes.
Wild salmon contains omega 3-fatty acids, astaxanthin, and selenium, all of which protect the skin from the sun. Omega 3-fatty acids help shield the skin from UV damage that causes premature aging. Additionally, astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid responsible for the salmon's pink color, neutralizes the free radicals produced by UV radiation that causes skin damage. Selenium is a mineral that helps safeguard the skin during sun exposure.
Everyone with a sweet tooth will be happy to hear that dark chocolate can help your skin improve its ability to protect against sunburns. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavanols, which, when ingested helps skin withstand twice the amount of UVB rays before it turns red, much like an application of sunscreen. To get the most skin protection from your dark chocolate, look for ones that have at least 70 percent cocoa.
Turmeric is a root plant that's part of the ginger family. For centuries, it's been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine because of its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, it's also been shown to protect epidermal skin cells from damage caused by UB radiation. It is a main ingredient in many Indian curry dishes, and it's also used to add flavor to meat, fish, pasta, and rice dishes.
Green tea contains a high amount of catechins, which are compounds known as a powerful antioxidant that promote many health benefits including inhibiting the processes that cause premature skin aging and protecting skin against sun damage. Additionally, green tea also contains antioxidants called EGCGs.
In human skin cells, EGCGs have been shown to stop genetic damage when the cells are exposed to UV light. Just two cups of green tea every day can provide this skin protection. Opt for loose leaf tea instead of tea bags to get the best benefits of catechins. Also, be sure the tea steeps for around five minutes.
As always, make sure you wear sunscreen to help protect your skin from damage caused by the sun. However, you can enjoy these foods to not only get UV protection, but also antioxidants and nutrients that are good for your entire body.