A safe sunscreen (like zinc oxide) is your best bet when it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. But did you know that you can increase your skin’s resistance to damage, aging, and even cancer with certain healthy foods?
Plants have their own built-in protection against the damaging effects of the sun. When you eat foods that come from these plants, you consume those protective compounds, which helps boost your skin’s ability to protect itself.
Science Indicates Foods Can be Skin Protective
According to the University of Maryland Medical System, eating certain foods can help reduce your risk of skin cancer. Though we don’t yet have scientific tests that have measured and compared various foods and their ability to protect the skin, research has shown that antioxidants in many of these foods may offer protection.
A study published in 2010 came to similar conclusions, though it added that food nutrients can protect not only against skin cancer, but photo-oxidative damage that leads to skin aging. Scientists noted that antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, in addition to essential fatty acids, have demonstrated protective properties. They added that the presence of these nutrients in the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet may have contributed to the low levels of melanoma there, despite the population’s exposure to high levels of solar radiation.
“The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies,” said Niva Shapira, lead author, “alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention.”
Some of the Best Choices
Though many foods may offer sun protection, below are a few of those with the most promise so far, though we’re always finding out about new super foods.
1. Apples: Surprised? A Japanese study actually found that apple polyphenol extracts, particularly flavonids called “procyanidins,” inhibit skin cancer in mice. Another polyphenol, quercetin, protected DNA from human skin cancer cells.
2. Green Tea: Yes, it’s a beverage, but it’s got powerful antioxidants. The University of Maryland Medical Center says it contains polyphenols, potent antioxidants that have shown in studies to help prevent skin tumors from starting or growing. (more…)