To be clear from the off, we’re not suggesting that you abandon your sunblock because you ate an orange this morning. If you’re going out in the sunshine, whether on the weekend in the UK or a full blown holiday in Spain, make sure you slap on the sun lotion every couple of hours or after swimming. Pay particular attention to the backs of your ears, and your hands and feet, areas that are often missed, and get a lip balm with sun protection included. And never forget your sunglasses, because your eyelids and even the whites of your eyes can get sunburned.
So, if you still need to wear the sunblock, what’s the point of eating to protect from the sun too? It’s simple: these foods give your skin a greater resilience at a cellular level, meaning you have less chance of skin cancer and wrinkles. Brilliant, right?
1. Citrus fruits
These contain a good amount of an ingredient called limonene. Limonene is a potent chemical that was found to cause a huge 34% less risk of skin cancer according to an Arizona University study.
2. Green tea
This can get some getting used to if you’re used to drinking builder’s tea, but green tea has a delicate flavour and a reviving effect. You can also brew it as normal, then chill it down with a slice of lemon for a refreshing cool drink. Why is it good for you? It contains high levels of antioxidants called ECGCs, which according to the University of Wisconsin halted genetic damage in skin exposed to UV light.
Carrots contain a high level of the aptly named carotenoids, which reduce the intensity of sunburn. All other red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain some degree of it too.
When you’re choosing a leafy green, the darker the better in terms of sun protection. Spinach, kale, chard and dark green lettuce all contain lots of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds which, in animal studies, stopped cell growth prompted by UV light.
Salmon is an oily fish of the good sort. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which seem, according to a small British study, to protect against against both sunburn and the DNA changes that sometimes lead to cancer.
Vegetarians or those not so keen on fish need not despair as you can get all the essential fatty acids from nuts like walnuts. Make sure you store them in the fridge though because the oils can go off, and once you’ve eaten a walnut past its best it’s enough to put you off for life!
These are all healthy foods that you don’t have to go to a health food shop to find or find yourself scratching your head over how to add them to you meals. To get loads of limonene from oranges and carotenoids from carrots, a carrot and orange juice is really delicious, and how about some grilled salmon for lunch with some salad, including spinach leaves, on the side? You can easily sprinkle some extra walnuts on your breakfast cereal or mid morning yoghurt, or simply eat a handful as a snack. And green tea can be drunk throughout the day to get its benefits.
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