Healthy Eating: 5 anti-sun damage foods

From tomatoes to green tea, these foods are loaded with healthy nutrients that will protect your skin from within.

Sun Damage (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Sun Damage
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Summer is a fun time with lots going on and plenty of opportunities to be outside, but without a doubt your skin has been exposed to the sun’s rays. You probably know that unprotected sun exposure can age your skin as well as increase your risk of skin cancer. You also probably also know that sunscreen is the best protection for your skin; but did you know that certain foods offer your skin additional protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays?
While there is no replacement for sunscreen, you can lend your body a helping hand and protect your skin (from within) by increasing your intake of these five healthy foods:
1. Tomatoes:
Turning red in the sun is without doubt the worst things you can do for your precious skin; but eating red fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, may provide your outer layer some extra protection against those burn causing UV rays.
Lycopene, the phytochemical that gives tomatoes their fiery hue (and Watermelon its pinkish tone) have been shown to help repair skin cells that have been damaged by the sun.
2. Green Tea:
Of course this steamy beverage found itself onto this list; what can’t green tea do? Rich in polyphenols that have both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea has been shown to help reduce the risk of skin cancer as well as offer the skin (a slight amount) of protection against painful sunburns.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that drinking two cups of green tea per day can help to reduce the risk of skin cancer by up to 30 percent. What’s more, the compounds found in this tea offer unparalleled action at fighting free radicals that are responsible for skin aging.
3. Lemons:
When we were young, some of us girls may have squeezed a lemon or twointo our hair to help lighten the color. While this was most definitely a bad idea for our hair, lemons, well actually their skin, have been shown to help reduce the risk of skin cancer.
D-limonene, a particular compound found in lemon peel as well as that of other citrus fruits, has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer (particularly squamous cell carcinomas) by almost 30% as it keeps the cancerous cells from growing and multiplying. While it may be hard to imagine eating the skin of citrus fruits, all that is needed is one tablespoon a week so try mixing it in baked goods or salad dressings.

4. Carrots:
We all know carrots, and other orange vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, the precursor to the all-important Vitamin A; however, beta-carotene is a powerful compound in its own right, as it acts as a potent anti-oxidant once inside the body. 
From being necessary for our proper eye function, to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, this beta-carotene lends us a helping handing from head to toe; but what about our skin? Studies have shown that Vitamin A promotes cell growth and cell regeneration. So after a long day of baking in the sun, grab a handful of carrots to help your skin recover and heal.

5. Red Snapper:
You’ve probably heard over and over again how salmon is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acid, an essential fatty acid that good for your heart. But it also can help to protect your skin when you are out in the heat. Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful at fighting off free radicals, which can occur as a result of overexposure to UV rays.
Now salmon isn’t the only fish rich in this nutrient – other fish, including red snapper is abundant in Omega-3. Moreover, red snapper is rich in selenium, a mineral that helps to reduce the risk of sunburn. So after a long day outside, swap your usual steak, chicken breast or hamburger on the grill for a piece of red snapper, salmon or other cold water fish.