Summer Foods that Help Protect and Repair Skin from Sun Damage
Blueberries are rich in powerful antioxidants that fight off free radicals that can damage skin due to sun exposure and stress. They’re also a very good source of vitamin C, which can help prevent wrinkles caused by sun damage from a day on the beach.
Tomatoes are known for containing lycopene, an antioxidant responsible for the tomatoes’ red color. But did you know that watermelons actually contain more? Lycopene absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation, although it may take several weeks for the skin to become more photoprotective due to its turnover rate. After a few weeks of daily, juicy watermelon consumption, lycopene can eventually act as a natural sunblock. It doesn’t take the place of other protective measures like SPF and sun protective clothing against sunspots and skin damage. But when it comes to anti-aging, this extra boost sure won’t hurt.
Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax all contain omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fish and eggs are also great sources of this skin loving fat. Our bodies can’t make omega-3s, so it’s essential that we get them from our diet.
What do omega-3s do for your skin? They help maintain your skin’s integrity and are anti-inflammatory, too. Omega-3s also help your body naturally cope with the effects of spending a little too much time in the sun.
Carrots and leafy greens
Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which is vital for skin health. A meta-analysis found that beta carotene provided natural sun protection after 10 weeks of regular supplementation.
Eating a variety of foods rich in this nutrient makes getting the daily quota a little easier. Carrots and leafy greens like kale and spinach are great beta carotene packed additions to meals and even breakfast smoothies. In particular, leafy greens are high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been found to help protect against wrinkles, sun damage, and even skin cancer.
A study on green tea consumption found that it reduced skin damage caused by UVA light and helped protect against the decrease in collagen. Collagen is our body’s most abundant protein that gives skin its integrity and firmness.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, a general rule to live by is to choose vibrantly colored foods because they’re more likely to contain more antioxidants. Don’t let cauliflower’s pale florets fool you! Cauliflower contains potent antioxidants that help to fight off oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Cauliflower is also a naturally sun protective food thanks to histidine, an alpha-amino acid that stimulates the production of urocanic acid, which helps to absorb UV rays.
Summer Sunblock Smoothie
This smoothie contains all of the skin protective ingredients listed above. Add it to your daily routine for a healthy glow all summer long.
1 ½ cups green tea, cooled
1 cup of kale or spinach
1 cup blueberries
1 cup watermelon, cubed
½ cup cauliflower florets
2 baby carrots, diced
2 tbsp. hemp hearts
1 tbsp. lemon juice
5 ice cubes
Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Keep in mind that while these nutrient rich foods may support the health of your skin, they are not a substitute for sunscreen. Still apply sunscreen daily to help prevent sun damage and skin cancer.