Slathering on sunscreen is never enjoyable. Does that stuff ever blend in completely? While it’s always important to spread  on at least a thin layer of  sunblock (yes, you can go for the easy spray-on, super-blend stuff), some other super powerful UV-blockers are hiding right in the produce aisle.

Meet the double-duty foods that have been shown to increase the skin’s ability to protect against UV damage. Oh, and they’re part of a healthy diet, too. Their sunblocking secret: Antioxidants. These compounds help fight free radicals, a nasty set of atoms or molecules that contribute to annoying problems like premature aging and can be a product of unprotected sun exposure. Free radicals prowl the body, stealing electrons from healthy cells (in this case, in the skin). Antioxidants are a person’s mini-martyrs, running around the body and giving up their extra electrons to free radicals so they stop pestering the healthy cells. Flashback to 6th grade science class, anyone?

Looking for comestible sun protection? Add these sun-friendly foods to the grocery list. (Sorry, SunChips aren’t included.)

Photo: Kate Morin

1. Omega-3-rich Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in many foods — and especially in shellfish and fatty fish) have incredible anti-inflammatory powers. Research suggests these compounds can help protect cells from free radical damage (like that caused by the sun). Another study found that adding omega-3 to the diet (or taking it in supplement form) may help prevent some types of skin cancer.

2. Red and Orange Fruits and Veggies Lycopene, a natural pigment and carotenoid (read: antioxidant), found in tomatoes and other red and pink produce has been shown to aid in protection against some UV-induced skin irritations like erythema. Lycopene (yes, the same thing that’s prominently featured on the back of every Heinz ketchup bottle) helps rid the body of free radicals. Beta-carotene — another type of carotenoid found in red and orange produce — has been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns , and flavanoid-filled orange and pink citrus fruits have also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays.

3. Dark Chocolate

Flavanoids found in dark chocolate may improve the skin’s ability protect against some types of skin damage, including UV-induced issues like sun burns. Plus, the flavonoids can help keep skin hydrated, increase oxygen saturation, and boost blood flow!  Here’s the green light to add a dark chocolate bar to your beach bag! (Just beware of it melting).

4. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, are packed with essential antioxidants that help fight those pesky free radicals. Bonus points? This family of veggies has also been linked to cancer prevention not only in the skin, but in a number of other organs as well. Research shows that broccoli sprouts, also in the cruciferous family, contain sulforaphane, which is linked to increasing the skin’s ability to protect itself from cancer.

Read the full article on Greatist.com.

  • GP

    I’ve been seeing a lot more articles regarding natural methods of sun protection.  But how much of these foods do you need to take in before you get substantial protection?  I know that sunscreen is probably necessary, regardless, but just wondering how much you need.

    • Jimbob

      More than you could ever eat. Slap on the sunblock, it’s the only way. Eat healthily, because it’s good for you in all sorts of ways, but not because it improves your resistance to UV. You’re not superman. Enjoy life. Peace.

    • Jimbob

      More than you could ever eat. Slap on the sunblock, it’s the only way. Eat healthily, because it’s good for you in all sorts of ways, but not because it improves your resistance to UV. You’re not superman. Enjoy life. Peace.

  • Deeppowinak

    About as much quality journalism as some terrible Yahoo.com piece….come on Inertia please eat everything on your list and go lay in the sun, enjoy the sunburn. This silly type of nonsense has been all over the internet and debunked many times. Disappointing.

  • Surfrider310

    Dark chocolate can substitute as board wax in a pinch ;-)