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Recently, researchers have been looking into whether diet can influence our skin’s resiliency to damaging rays. Although diet alone can’t provide total protection from the sun, eating these foods and nutrients may provide an extra level of safety.
Fruits and vegetables
In plants, carotenoids and flavonoids provide protection against the sun. Research is ongoing into whether these micronutrients have a similar effect in humans, and the results are looking positive. Carotenoids are found in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, as well as sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash. Flavonoid-rich foods include dark-coloured berries, cherries, apples, and onions.
Lycopene, a carotenoid and pigment in tomatoes, has been found to help the skin protect itself from the sun. This protective effect is especially noticeable when tomatoes have been cooked and mixed with some kind of healthy fat, such as olive oil.
A preliminary trial concluded that high-flavonoid hot cocoa not only improved the skin’s ability to protect itself from UV damage, but also improved blood flow and skin hydration.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could play a role in the prevention of sun damage and non-melanoma skin cancers. Flaxseed oil is an especially good source, as are salmon and walnuts.
Vitamins C and E
One study on sun sensitivity compared a group that took a combination of vitamin C and vitamin E supplements with a control group that did not. Researchers found that the supplement group had reduced sunburn reactions, while the control group did not.
Green tea is packed with healthy polyphenols, compounds found to combat the damaging effects of UV light.