Most of us are familiar with the guidelines for sensible enjoyment of sunny weather - eg. no prolonged exposure, no exposure during the hottest parts of the day, and no exposure without sunscreen. However, did you know that you can also help your skin resist the harmful effects of the sun by preparing and protecting it another way. How? By changing your diet.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants – the molecules that help destroy free radicals – aid in protecting your skin from sun-damage, help repair UV damage at the cellular level, and prevent your skin from premature aging. Does eating high-antioxidant foods mean you can skip the sunscreen? Most definitely not, but with skin-cancer rates on the rise, why not give your skin an extra protective boost!
Foods that fight free radical damage:
The main antioxidants found in our diet are Vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, zinc and selenium. Here is a closer look:
- Vitamin C: sources include citrus fruit, kiwis, strawberries, watercress, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Carotenoids (brightly coloured fruits and vegetables): sources include tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes, apricots, melon, yellow peaches, watermelon, spinach, watercress, and kale.
- Vitamin A: sources include liver, egg yolks, oily fish, butter, and cheese.
- Vitamin E: sources include vegetable oils such as sunflower and corn oil, almonds, hazelnuts, and green leafy vegetables.
- Zinc: sources include wheat germ, oysters, calf liver, and wholegrain breads.
- Selenium: sources include seafood, fish, mushrooms, garlic, onion, and wholegrain cereals.
Foods that protect cell membranes:
- Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like oily fish, rapeseed oil, and raw, unsalted nuts are an important component of your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help protects cell membranes against the free radical damage that is brought on by prolonged sun exposure.
- Other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include avocados, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables (spinach, watercress, cabbage, etc.)