Sunburn is never fun and is sometimes painful. Some foods, however, can help increase a person’s natural sun protection factor, or SPF. Tomatoes can now be viewed as an edible sunscreen since the publication of a new study, in which the Athens Medical School in England tested food found in people’s refrigerators. They found that people who ate a quarter-cup of tomato paste increased their skin’s sun protection factor by a third and had less sunburns. Carrots are another food that can guard people from the sun. A study examined 30 women who ate 30 milligrams of beta-carotene for three months. The results of the study showed that the food repaired and shielded women from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
According to Sara Vance, a clinical nutritionist in Encinitas, California, antioxidants such as carotenoids are what gives some food their bright colors and are also important to the photosynthesis process., which shields plants from being harmed by oxygen and light. When people consume plants or organisms that contain these pigments, they can get similar benefits.
A third food group that provides protection from the sun is dark vegetables. Harold Lancer, a doctor of medicine and dermatology in Beverly Hills, says that the darker the color of the vegetable, the more nutritious it is and the more valuable the antioxidants, which can reverse free radicals in a person’s body, and appear when skin cells become damaged from exposure to the sun. Tara Gidus, a registered dietician, says that fruits that are high in Vitamin C can help kill free radicals. According to Jeffrey Blumberg, a nutrition professor at Tufts University, free radicles are created when cells are damaged during oxidation.
Peanuts and wheat germ are two more foods from the food pantry that can act as an edible sunscreen. These foods can shield the body from damage caused by free radicals. Dark chocolate can also protect you from the sun because they contain flavanoids, which can help keep people from getting sunburned.
Spinach is another food that can provide shelter against sun damage. This food contains two antioxidants–carotenoids and polyphenols–that can protect people’s skin from sun damage. Green tea is also a great food to protects people from the sun, as it contains antioxidants that increase a person’s natural SPF.
Karen Burke, a doctor of medicine and philosophy in the dermatology department at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that antioxidants can increase the skin’s natural repairing system and prevent future damage. Registered dietician Brooke Joanna Benlifer states that watermelon contains lycopene, which can prevent a person’s skin from turning red when it burns.
Foods that act as edible sunscreen can have important sun blocking properties, such as antioxidants from dark vegetables and chocolate that can destroy free radicals. Tomatoes, food found in most people’s refrigerators, can help people by shielding them from the sun. Beta-carotene found in carrots and located in people’s own gardens, can provide protection from UV rays. Doctors warn, however that even though these foods do, indeed, give people protection from the sun, they should also remember to use sunscreen anytime they plan to be outdoors.
By Jordan Bonte