UV rays from the sun can damage the skin cell’s DNA which can cause wrinkles, rough skin, sagging skin, and even skin cancer. Sunscreens are one way to protect your skin from UV damage, but sunscreens often have harmful chemicals in them. Fortunately, there’s a way that you can naturally protect your skin from UV rays, and that’s by eating. Certain foods, also known as “sunscreen foods”, contain antioxidants that neutralize the effects of UV rays.
Green tea is full of antioxidants! Research has shown that people who drink green tea have less skin color changes after sun exposure and better skin elasticity versus people who don’t drink green tea. Drink at least a cup of green tea a day to get skin protection benefits.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is the nutrient that gives tomatoes their bright red color. This protects tomatoes from shriveling up under the sun while on the vine, and it also protects human skin from UV damage. You can get lycopene from eating raw tomatoes, but you get a higher concentration of it by eating tomato paste. All-natural ketchup and spaghetti sauce commonly contain tomato paste.
UV exposure causes the production of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase enzymes), which breaks down collagen in the skin, leading to wrinkles, skin roughness, and a reduction in skin elasticity. Raspberries contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which blocks the production of MMP enzymes. Raspberries are also rich in vitamin C, which helps fight off DNA damage to skin cells. Researchers have found that people who consume raspberries have fewer wrinkles, softer skin, and firmer skin than people who don’t consume raspberries.
Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols that protect the skin from UV damage. Researchers found that people who ate dark chocolate could stay in the sun twice as long without sunburn than those who did not eat dark chocolate. For the most skin protection, look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the skin after exposure to UV rays and help preserve the body’s ability to fight off skin cancer. Eat a handful of walnuts a day to boost your body’s skin cancer-fighting abilities. Raw, organic walnuts are best.
For best results, you should eat some of these sun-damage-fighting foods every day. Besides the UV protection benefits, they also contain nutrients and antioxidants that benefit your entire body, so it's a win-win!