This post was originally published on June 11, 2012. It has been updated for accuracy and freshness.
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
Since dark chocolate is a strong antioxidant rich in flavonoids, it will shield you from sunburn and cancer. Flavonoids absorb UV light and reduce inflammation. If you consume just two ounces a day of genuine dark chocolate, you will get the health benefits you need to lessen your chance of cancer.
2. Tomatoes and Watermelon
These both have the antioxidant lycopene, which defends the skin from sun damage. If you eat tomato paste or cooked tomatoes, these have even more lycopene in them. 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 30%.
3. Green leafy vegetables
These veggies have carotenoids and antioxidants lutein and quercetin, which can guard your skin from sun damage and skin diseases. 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.
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.
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.
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