Foods to Help You Stay Safer in the Sun

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Living in Tucson, I am always drawn to reading articles about how to protect our skin from the damaging affects of the sun.  I recently came across an article by Kate Geagon, MS, RD who believes that some antioxidant rich foods can protect our skin not only from DNA damage inside our bodies, but also on the outside.  She lists 4 foods in particular.

I will start with everyone’s favorite–Chocolate !!  Yes, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, especially when its at least 70 % Cacao.  But remember, a little goes a long way because it is still very calorie dense.

Tomatoes & watermelons are great summer foods.  How amazing is it to take a bite out of tomato that you have grown yourself. But an even more powerful dose of the lycopene that these foods have to offer are in tomato sauce or paste. Two university studies from New Castle & Manchester found that subjects who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste each day, were 33 % less likely to get a sunburn than the control groups. This is believed to be due to the lycopene protecting the cells’ mitochondria from DNA damage.  So even if you don’t live in Tucson, but have a week at the beach planned, make sure to add some tomato paste to your meals.

Kale, one of my all time favorite foods, is loaded with Lutein. And Lutein in our retinas help protect the eye against UV damage.  A leading cause of vision loss in people over 55 is Macular Degeneration, and diets rich in Lutein have been shown to lower the risk of this condition.

And lastly, not really a food, but a beverage, Green Tea has yet another health benefit !  A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that drinking two cups of green tea a day, significantly reduced redness and inflammation after UV exposure as compared with the control group. And it doesn’t have to be hot tea. You can brew it and then either add ice or make a pitcher to keep in the fridge. And don’t forget to always squeeze a bit of lemon in your green tea to boost the availability of the catechins.

However, there is no food that should ever be used in place of adequate sunscreen and UV sunglasses whenever you are outside.






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Nancy A. Goodman

Nancy A. Goodman, NSCA-CPT, ISSA is a certified nutrition consultant and personal trainer. She has years of experience working with individuals to attain their fitness and overall health goals. She is committed to helping her clients live a robust life of wellness.



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