It’s August, and by now you’ve likely worked your way through a few tubes of natural sunscreen.
But if you really want to get smart about protecting your beauty from sun damage this year, you’ll pack your diet with a few major nutrients that amp up your skin’s natural ability to defend against UV damage, promote healing and reduce the negative effects of the sun.
For natural sun protection from the inside, go for lycopene, beta carotene, vitamins C + E (they’re a power couple when eaten together), and omega 3s. If you think it takes work to get these nutrients in your diet, think again. The following 5 dishes—all common summer foods— deliver a major dose of sun-protective sustenance. They’ll give you extra sun defense (though don’t ditch your sunscreen) that will boost your anti-aging power all summer long.
- Fruit Salad. Pack your salad with watermelon (for lycopene), cantaloupe (for beta carotene), and pineapple or kiwi (for vitamin C), and you’ll have a powerful foundation of sun damage-blockers. Toss in some antioxidant-rich berries, like blueberries and raspberries, and you’ll amp up the overall anti-aging benefits. While you’re at it, sip a glass of green tea (iced or hot, but make sure it’s freshly-brewed) with your fruit for even more sun-protective nutrients in your diet.
- Pasta with Tomato Sauce. It’s the cooked tomatoes that protect you in this dish—not the pasta, so add pasta in small amounts (and make it gluten-free). The content of the sun-protective nutrient lycopene in tomatoes increases with cooking, which is why tomato sauce (choose a variety with low sugar, or make our own) is so fabulous for the skin. One study found that natural sun protection in the skin increased by 33% after eating 5 tablespoons of tomato paste, with olive oil, a great source of anti-aging vitamin E. Balance the pasta with loads of veggies (throw in kale or broccoli even for more sun defense).
- Crudités. Cut up some fresh veggies for a beautifying snack that shields you from UV damage. My veggie picks for super sun protection are red peppers (high in vitamin C, lycopene and beta carotene), carrots (a great source of beta carotene), and broccoli (packed with C). Adding a healthy source of fat to your veggies allows you to absorb the most nutrition, so dip your raw veggies in an olive oil-rich dressing (check out my Organic Spa Magazine post Build a Salad Dressing with Beauty Benefits) or…
- Guacamole. The supercharged combination of vitamins C and E (found in lime juice and avocados, respectively) prevents sun damage and repairs sunburns. C and E work most effectively together, so guac is a perfect summer snack (pair it with your plate of veggie crudités, above).
- Grilled Wild Salmon. Omega 3-rich wild salmon helps reduce inflammation in the skin (calming redness and slowing aging) and imparts sun-protective powers. Salmon also contains the extremely powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which protects the skin and eyes from UV damage.