Though it seems like summer is almost over, the sun is still strong!
I love the sun (even though it doesn’t love my Irish skin), and so many of you also love the sun (I’m confident of this)- but we just need to be careful; the sun is strong and the rate of skin cancer is growing at a crazy fast pace, making it is so important to protect your skin from the sun.
So, in your efforts to help protect your against the sun, you’re using sunblock, maybe a hat, maybe an SPF piece of clothing… but have you thought about how your food may be able to help you? Yep, that’s right, some foods can help to provide some sun-protective benefits. It works in two ways- the first is that some foods contain nutrients that can help repair damage from the sun, and some foods also contain photo-protective properties that actually help to protect your skin from the sun.
Check out some of our fave summertime (and all year long) foods that can help protect your skin from sun damage!
1. Foods rich in omega 3’s (fatty fish, walnuts, chia seeds):
Both plant and animal-based foods like fatty fish, chia seeds and walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help to repair damage done by the sun and may even protect against certain types of skin cancer (fatty fish in particular).
Try this: Simple Roasted Salmon
Tomatoes are seasonal to summer, and may also help to protect the skin from damage from the sun. Researchers found that women who had tomato paste every day for three months were more protected against sunburn than those who didn’t; this because tomatoes (particularly when tomatoes are cooked or stewed like in the case of ketchup or tomato paste) contain lycopene that may help prevent long term protection against UV radiation and sunburn.
Try this: Cucumber Tomato Salad
Carrots often get a bad wrap but in fact they make for a great snack or addition to any meal and may also help to protect against sun damage. For example, researchers found that those who consumed 30 mg of beta carotene daily for three months experienced more protection from sun damage. Try this
Try this: Sweet Watermelon and Carrot Juice
4. Sweet potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are another favorite because they’re tasty, and they’re also good for protecting your skin from damage from the sun. Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta carotene (as I discussed above in the case of carrots) that may help to protect the skin from sun damage. Additionally, sweet potatoes are also a source of ellagic acid- a nutrient that can prevent tumor growth.
Try this: Sweet Potato Toast 3 Ways
5. Dark green leafy vegetables:
Dark green leafy vegetables like chard, collards, kale and spinach are delicious and light summer veggies that are plentiful and also rich in beta carotene (even though they’re not orange!) and polyphenols which both act as antioxidants helping to repair damage from the sun in addition to beta carotene being found to help prevent sun damage on it’s own. The darker the green leafy vegetable the more nutrients it contains – so pick the ones deepest in color for the most nutritional benefit.
Try this: Chicken and Kale Summer Salad
6. Bell peppers:
Bell peppers are another warm weather favorite (and all year long!) because they can be used in salads, as snacks and in your favorite cooking dishes. Not only are they tasty but they’re also a source of beta carotene (especially the red, yellow, and orange ones) that’s protective against sun damage. Bell peppers are also hydrating due to their water content- so enjoy them in the heat to help keep you cool and energized.
Try this: Easy Chicken Peppers
Watermelon is a fresh and seasonal summer fruit, that’s loaded with heart-healthy magnesium and is also hydrating. On top of being a source of magnesium and also hydrating, watermelon is also a source of lycopene- a nutrient that can help to protect the skin from sun damage and unlike tomatoes that need to be cooked for the lycopene to be absorbable, in the case of watermelon we can actually absorb it in the raw form.
Try this: Red White and Blue Hummus Platter
8. Dark chocolate:
Not just any chocolate, but a minimally processed, 70-80% dark chocolate is a source of flavonoids that may help to protect your skin from the sun. Try nibbling on very dark chocolate for the best benefit or add cacao powder to a smoothie or recipe.
Try this: Double Chocolate Smoothie