5 Foods That Enhance Your Natural Sun Protection

What you eat determines how firm, radiant and ageless your skin is. The types of foods you choose influence your body’s ability to make collagen and elastin, dictate how hydrated your skin cells will be, and can even inhibit enzymes that cause wrinkles. Eat the wrong foods and you’ll end up with lined, pigmented and sagging skin. Eat the right foods and you’ll have clear, luminous and soft skin.

Certain foods can also enhance your skin’s natural sun protection, boosting it’s ability to ward off the damages of UV exposure. On my last beach vacation, I inadvertently applied moisturizer instead of sunscreen, and after spending seven hours in the sun sans-suncreen, I only ended up with a pink face which disappeared after 12 hours. Had I not been eating these sun-protecting foods, I would have done significantly more damage to my skin. Of course, you should never forget to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen as well!

Plants use antioxidants to protect against sun damage, so when you eat more plants, you eat their antioxidants, and they work similarly within your body. So the more plants you eat, the more natural sun protection your skin will have.

For maximum enhanced sun protection, eat these five foods on a regular basis.

Heirloom Tomatoes

There are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to reduce UV-induced free radicals by 40 to 50 percent. Lycopene is better absorbed with fat, so drizzle your tomatoes with olive oil. You need to eat about a cup to get the sun-protecting benefit. Heirloom tomatoes have more lycopene than conventional tomatoes.

Pomegranate Seeds

These seeds contain polyphenols that help protect the skin from both UVA and UVB free radicals. They can enhance the sun protection factor of sunscreen by up to 25% and also inhibit hyperpigmentation. Snack on the seeds or toss them into a watercress salad. Pomegranate juice is also an easy way to get the antioxidants, but without the seeds, there’s no fiber so the juice converts too quickly to sugar leading to glycation, which contributes to aging of the skin.

Watermelon

This is another great source of lycopene. You need about three cups for it to be effective. Eat watermelon as a delicious summer snack with fresh mint and a squeeze of lime.

Bell peppers

These peppers contain the antioxidant capsiate, which decreases UVB-induced skin damage and inhibits inflammation from sun exposure. Toss raw bell peppers into a spinach salad. You need a whole bell pepper for it to be effective.

Wild salmon

This fish is rich in omega-3 fats which inhibit inflammation from UVB rays by up to 52 percent. They also block the release of UV-induced enzymes which eat away at collagen, causing increased wrinkles and sagging. Enjoy the wild salmon as ceviche or poached over micro-greens.

If you want to go all out and eat a sun protecting meal, eat poached wild salmon with a tomato and bell pepper salad drizzled in olive oil, followed by a watermelon and pomegranate salad tossed in fresh lime juice. Enjoy!

Image via Stocksy

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The team at Food Coach NYC, led by Charlotte’s Book advisor Dana James, has some amazing recipes for summer skin. Try Dana’s watermelon mint smoothie, or this gorgeous salmon recipe with pumpkin seeds.

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