Foods That Offer Natural Sun Protection

Lying out in the sun can be like getting a massage since sunlight has vitamin D, which boosts the release of serotonin. This happy hormone relieves pain and gives you sudden bursts of energy and feelings of pleasure. Yet, sadly, the sun can also damage your skin, and has the potential to cause skin cancer.

But only 10-15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen gives you your recommended vitamin D intake, however if you stay out too long you greatly increase your risk of a sunburn and long-term skin damage and negative health effects.

But did you know that there are foods you can eat that will help bestow some natural sun protection on your skin? While they’re not a substitute for sunscreen, these 5 foods may help protect you from the sun’s negative effects.

 

Best Sun Protection Food

1. Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate for skin health

 

Chocolate lovers rejoice! A new study has found that dark chocolate may help protect against sunburn and improve skin health. The study, which was conducted by the University of Washington, found that people who ate dark chocolate had significantly lower levels of inflammation after being exposed to ultraviolet light. 

The researchers believe that the antioxidants in chocolate help to reduce inflammation and protect skin cells from damage. In addition, the chocolate appeared to increase blood flow to the skin, which may help to improve skin health. 

While more research is needed to confirm these findings, the results suggest that dark chocolate may be a delicious way to protect your skin from the sun. So next time you’re stocking up on sunscreen, be sure to grab a bar of dark chocolate as well.

 

2. Tomatoes and Watermelon

Tomatoes and watermelon are not only delicious, but they also offer a number of benefits for the skin. Both fruits are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from UV damage. 

Lycopene is thought to improve skin collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Lycopene is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to soothe irritated skin. 

Furthermore, watermelons are a good source of vitamin C, another nutrient that is essential for healthy skin. Vitamin C promotes collagen production and protects the skin from free radical damage. 

It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce redness and swelling. When applied topically, vitamin C can also help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots. Thus, both tomatoes and watermelons can help to improve skin health in a variety of ways.

Cooked tomatoes or tomato paste contain more lycopene. If you have 16 mg of it each day, which is the same you will get from 3 oz. of tomato sauce, you’ll increase your sun protection by about 30%.

 

3. Fish

Fish is a good source of protein and essential fatty acids, both of which are important for healthy skin. Fatty acids help to keep the skin moisturized and supple, while protein provides the building blocks for new skin cells. 

In addition, fish contains certain antioxidants that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. One study found that people who ate fish regularly had a lower risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. 

The researchers believe that the nutrients in fish may help to repair damage caused by ultraviolet light and improve the skin’s ability to protect itself from further damage. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, there is no doubt that eating fish has many benefits for the skin.

Fish such as mackerel, trout, salmon, herring and sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that will reduce your risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. If you eat two servings of fish per week you’ll generally get the protection you need. Fish oil supplements are also handy for reducing sunburn.

 

4. Green leafy vegetables

leafy greens for natural sun protection

It’s no secret that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for your overall health. But did you know that certain produce can also help protect your skin against the harmful effects of the sun? 

Research has shown that green leafy vegetables, in particular, offer a range of benefits for healthy skin. These nutrients-rich plants contain carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can help to neutralize damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 

In addition, carotenoids can also help to boost the skin’s natural production of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy cell growth. What’s more, green leafy vegetables are also a good source of vitamin C, another important nutrient for healthy skin. 

Vitamin C helps to promote collagen production and provides protection against free radical damage. 

Spinach, kale, and chard may reduce your risk of squamous cell cancer by 50%, according to the International Journal of Cancer. Broccoli is also beneficial, and you only need to eat one half cup each day to get the positive effects from it.

So if you’re looking for ways to boost your skin health and protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, be sure to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables.

 

5. Orange Veggies

Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes have been connected to reducing sunburns as well. They all contain beta-carotene, which is an excellent form of sun protection. Apparently, the more colorful the plant, the more it will guard you against UV rays’ harmful effects and help reduce your signs of aging and skin cancer.

Of course, after getting your vitamin D, slather on the sunscreen, and for some extra protection, just eat a few servings of these natural, waterproof sunscreens.


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

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