We love soaking up the sun – in a safe and practical way – so while we always slather on sunscreen before heading outdoors, we also eat foods that help provide natural sun protection. Nutritionist Christa Orecchio shares her favorite natural SPF superstars – foods rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent the signs of aging and provide UV protection.
Eat your sunscreen:
"According to Harvard professor Salvador Gonsalez, the antioxidant lutein, found in tomatoes, egg yolks, spinach and broccoli, has the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer," says Christa. "Just make sure you don’t overcook your food because that will decrease the lutein content."
Christa says foods like orange bell peppers, carrots, and butternut and acorn squash contain the skin-friendly carotenoid zeaxanthin. "A diet rich in these foods provides a fourfold increase in protection from UV-radiation induced skin damage."
How do omega-3 fatty acids protect your skin? According to Christa, unfiltered fish oil contains the powerful antioxidant astraxanthin (note: Your fish oil should be a rich amber color, not pale yellow). It is derived from algae and thought to be 100 times more effective than vitamin E to clean up pesky toxins, or free radicals in the body. Vegetarian? Consuming algae in the form of chlorella and spirulina will deliver a powerful punch of astraxanthin as well.