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5 foods that will help protect your skin in the sun

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At the cottage, it’s all fun and games—until someone doesn’t put on sunscreen before their epic six-hour fishing marathon. Then, well, ouch.

Fortunately, a little extra protective boost from the sun may be no further away than your dinner plate. Research has shown that there are foods that may help reduce the harmful effects of the sun. Now, that’s not an excuse to avoid sunscreen altogether—given enough time, you’ll feel the effects of sun exposure no matter what you eat. But isn’t it nice to know that some foods are good for your taste buds, health, and your skin?


According to a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, lycopene—that fabulous phytochemical found in tomatoes—protects skin against damage from sunlight. Subjects who ate tomato paste daily for 12 weeks displayed less damage from sun exposure than a control group. Lycopene is best absorbed from tomatoes when they’ve been heated and combined with fat, so cook up a tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, and plenty of olive oil for full benefits.

Green tea

Is there anything green tea can’t do? In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, consuming green tea daily for 12 weeks can improve blood flow and oxygen to your skin and help protect you from harmful UV rays. Nicely, soaking a compress in either green or black cooled tea is a popular remedy if you do get a sunburn, so keep the teabags close at hand.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks house large concentrations of two powerful carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to protect both skin and eyes from damage by sunlight. Make a whole-egg omelet for breakfast, or experiment with homemade mayonnaise to enjoy delicious benefits. Not an egg fan? Corn, orange peppers, kiwi, grapes, and spinach also have significant amounts of both substances.

Citrus peel

Peels from grapefruit, lemons, and limes contain limonene, a chemical that seems to reduce the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. To incorporate citrus peel into your diet, use lemon or lime zest to dress up a salad, twist citrus rind over your evening cocktail for a dose of fragrant oil, or enjoy some marmalade on your breakfast toast.

Red wine

That relaxing glass of red wine that’s so good for your mental well-being may also be great for your skin. According to an Australian study in 2009, consuming an average of half a glass of red wine per day is associated with a reduced incidence of actinic keratoses, pre-cancerous lesions on the skin. Not a drinker? Oily fish, like mackerel or salmon, appears to have the same benefit. Cheers!