We all know that topping up the sunscreen, along with a hat and sunglasses, is important to protect yourself from the sun, but did you know what you eat may also help to safeguard you and give you extra protection against the sun’s harmful rays? This is thanks to the phytochemicals (i.e., plant chemicals) found in our plant-based foods… Dr Sammie Gill, Gastroenterology Dietitian, gives us the lowdown.
So, what should we be including on the edible sunscreen shopping list? We’ve included a couple of foods to get you started.
• Grapes: emerging research suggests eating grapes may help protect against UV damage and reduce inflammation. This has been attributed to the rich polyphenol content of grapes (mainly flavonoids). In fact, one study that analysed skin samples of healthy people after consumption of freeze-dried grapes (equivalent of just over 2 cups of grapes per day) for 14 days found they had an increased resistance to sunburn. Remember to mix it up with white, red, and black grapes for polyphenol variety!
• Tomatoes: in one study, those that consumed a small amount of tomato paste daily (40g) for 10 weeks with olive oil had 40% less sunburn. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene (an antioxidant that plays a role in protecting the skin against sunburn). And the healthy fat content of olive oil helps with absorption of lycopene (so add a generous drizzle!).
• Goji berries: several studies have shown that beta-carotene (another type of antioxidant) may protect against sunburn, accelerate healing from sun damage, and improve other skin health markers such as texture, elasticity, and pigmentation. It’s thought to play a key role in skin aging too. Beta-carotene is abundant in other yellow-red coloured and green fruit and vegetables including spinach, carrots, and mango.
More tomatoes anyone?!