Natural “Sunscreen” in the Produce Aisle
Summer is right around the corner, and you’re ready for some fun in the sun. But summer sun can be tough on your skin. Do you know where you can get some of the best skin protection against sun’s damaging rays? Not just in that bottle of sunscreen. Some of the best skin protectors are found right under your nose, in the produce section of your local grocery store!
Been burned red by the sun? Try EATING “red” to help! A recent study shows that those who eat 5 tablespoons of lycopene-rich tomato paste every day for 3 months have nearly 25% more protection against sunburn (http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Lycopene-rich-tomato-paste-helps-skin-from-within-Study). And the skin has more collagen, which prevents sagging. To top it off, German scientists have shown that higher skin levels of lycopene also mean fewer fine lines and wrinkles. You may not be up for 5 Tbsps of tomato paste daily, but there are other easy ways to eat red. Try popping some grape tomatoes for an afternoon snack, add a couple of tomato slices on your sandwich, or throw some julienned sliced sun-dried tomatoes on your salad. If you like zesty spreads, mix tomato paste with a little olive oil and seasonings to taste and spread on whole wheat pita wedges for a different twist on the typical appetizer.
Strawberries are another “red” to eat for skin protection. One cup has over 130% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that increases production of collagen to keep skin smooth and firm. Ellagic acid, another antioxidant in strawberries, also protects the skin’s elasticity, keeping your skin from sagging. And an extra bonus thrown in: Research has shown those who eat the most strawberries are 3 times less likely to develop malignant cancer cells.
Finally, don’t forget the lowly red apple peel. Quercetin is the new antioxidant kid-on-the-block, and it’s found in the peel of many different apple varieties, especially Monroe, Cortland and Golden Delicious (an exception to red!). Quercetin provides strong sunburn protection from the burning UVB rays that trigger skin cancer. But remember, it’s the peel that has almost 100% of the antioxidants, so don’t miss out on the maximum benefits by ignoring the brightly colored outside layer. And another extra bonus? In one study of 34,000 post-menopausal women, those who eat 2 or more apples weekly for 1 year lower their risk of dying from heart disease by 15%. An apple a day may really keep the doctor away! (http://www.bestapples.com/healthy/Apples_Reduce_Heart_Disease.aspx)
Yes, summer’s right around the corner. So are those fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market or grocery produce aisle. So give yourself a powerful double dose of sun protection and wrinkle prevention by snacking on fresh red produce before spraying on that bottled sunscreen. Enjoy!