Vitamin D is critical in achieving sound long-term health, and the sun is a great source for it. It goes without saying that summer is easily the best time of the year to get vitamin D naturally. However, summertime is also when harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays exposure is at its peak, putting our bodies at maximum risk of acquiring skin cancer and a myriad of other health problems.
The good news is, there are plenty of precautionary measures you can take to keep yourself safe from overexposure. The even better news is that there are certain foods that can help strengthen your skin’s defenses against the sun’s UV radiation’s potential damages.
While food is, in no way, a substitute for sunblock, what you eat greatly influences how easily you get sunburn. FoodFacts.com shares a list of healthy foods that can boost your epidermal armor against harmful UV rays.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. According to research, long-term intake of vitamin C can reduce potential for sunburn when combined with vitamin E. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits contain limonene, which dramatically lowers the risk of skin cancer. Citrus fruits also contain antioxidants, which work to protect cells from free-radical damage that can lead to skin cancer.
Dubbed “nature’s sunscreen,” tomato provides long-term protection against UV-radiation-induced effects. Thanks to the antioxidant, lycopene, found in tomatoes and tomato-based products.
Note: Processed and/or cooked tomatoes have more lycopene content than fresh tomatoes.
The beta-carotene found in carrots also helps protect the skin from the free-radical damage caused by UV exposure. Additionally, carrots may even reverse damages, according to a Korean study. The study showed that the antioxidants found in carrots not only have protective properties, but that they also repaired cells from photoaging.
Green tea is packed with antioxidants such as catechins and epigallocatechin gallates (EGCGs). Catechins have preventive properties, including protection from sunburn and long-term UV radiation damage. EGCGs, on the other hand, stop genetic damage in skin cells after UV light exposure. In addition, green tea has tannic acid, which helps soothe sunburn pain.
Fruits and vegetables are not the only foods that can help toughen your skin’s natural abilities to guard you from the sun. The fish oils found in salmon can offer protection against sunburn and DNA changes that can lead to cancer.
Bonus: Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide a world of health benefits.