August 28, 2018

collection of grapefruit halves

You’re probably used to thinking of SPF as something you put on your skin.  Consider another kind of SPF that you put in your body:  we call them Sun Protection Foods. 

There’s a whole bunch of foods that can help fight the photoaging effects of the sun, especially the UVA rays that are present all year long, even when it’s cloudy.

While we would never recommend skipping your daily use of sunscreen, making room in your daily diet for these foods can be another defense against the damaging UV rays.

The good news is that you’re already probably eating a lot of them.  This list is full of foods high in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and rid the body of free radicals and protect against UVA-induced skin damage.

Here’s a list of foods that pack a punch with protecting nutrients that act as natural UV blockers: (for references citing research and sources, see links following article)

    Anti-Oxidants, Lycopene and Vitamin C

    These foods can help fight free radicals, and act as anti-inflammatories which may help to prevent and treat UV sun damage.

    • Strawberries
    • Grapes (yes, even wine counts)
    • Cherries
    • Tomatoes
    • Watermelon
    • Pomegranates
    • Blueberries
    • Olive oil (has natural sun-blocking benefits, because it contains squalene, a compound with antioxidant powers)
    • Broccoli
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Swiss Chard
    • Cauliflower
    • Fresh herbs: especially parsley, sage, basil and rosemary

    Omega-3 Fats

    Our bodies can’t make omega-3s, so it’s essential that we get them from our diet.   They help maintain your skin’s integrity and are anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to help protect cells from free radical damage and boost skin immunity from the sun.

    • Wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish and shellfish
    • Walnuts
    • Sunflower seeds, hemp and chia seeds, and flax

    Lycopene and Beta Carotene

    Lycopene shields against UV, while Vitamin C may help to prevent and treat UV-induced photodamage.  Red and orange fruits and vegetables are high in Lycopene and also beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to Vitamin A, an essential ingredient in skin hydration.

    • Tomatoes
    • Watermelon
    • Guava
    • Pomegranate
    • Sweet Red Peppers
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Orange and pink citrus fruits (these have flavanols which have also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays).
    • Carrots! A superstar food that’s a triple threat against UV damage with beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamin C.  These three potent nutrients have been shown to act as a line of defense against photodamage and premature aging.

    Vitamin E

    Essential to prevent against photodamage - also great for skin hydration

    • Avocado
    • Almonds
    • Sunflower Seeds

    Coffee and Tea

    One cup of coffee packs in about 100 milligrams of UV-protecting anti-oxidant polyphenols.

    If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, then please help yourself to a cup of tea. Both contain flavanols and polyphenols, which might have preventive effects against UV damage.

    Dark Chocolate

    Yep, saved the best for last. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) is rich in flavanols which may improve the skin’s ability to protect against some types of skin damage.  Plus, the flavanols can help keep skin hydrated, increase oxygen saturation, and boost blood flow.

    Why not treat your skin to the added boost of UV  protection it can get from making sure you eat an adequate amount of these foods every day? 




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