11 Surprising Ways to Prevent Sunburn — with Food!Heather Neal
We’re three days into “unofficial pool season” and I’m proud to say I have my first sunburn. “Why proud?” you say … because, as I frequently joke, I could get a sunburn in the dead of winter. By that logic, with a faint sunburn creeping up after three days in the height of the direct sun, I’m pretty impressed with myself.
Everyone always laughs about the ridiculous ease in which I burn, but since it’s true, I fail to find the humor in it. Blisters, peeling skin, and a fear of more than 15 minutes in the sun? No thanks. As luck would have it, I married into a family that starts getting a tan mid-March. By our first beach trip of the summer, they’re usually golden brown and I’m, well … pale and burnt.
I could bathe in sunscreen all day long, and while it helps, I never fail to miss a spot no matter how many times I reapply. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to keeping the sunburn at bay: a giant umbrella, loads of sunscreen including both lotion and spray, and a diet hefty in antioxidants. Yup, food. My bestie. Who knew? Boosting your diet with certain foods is just one of the many ways to prevent sunburn.
Before you head out to the beach this hot and toasty summer, think about adding some of these foods to your daily plate. A couple of these foods may even surprise you. Hint: They may or may not involve wine and chocolate. Need I say more to convince you to give it a try? (Please don’t skip the sunscreen just because you had a few glasses of wine the night before though.)
11 Foods That Help Prevent Sunburn:
Yup, you read that right: saturated fat. It may not help directly with sunburn, but it looks like saturated fat might help prevent skin cancer.
2. Cod Liver Oil
(And other vitamin D-containing foods.)
This one’s a little funny: Our main source of vitamin D is the sun, but vitamin D may also help protect us from the sun. In some studies it’s been shown to increase the skin’s tolerance to the sun, essentially making it harder to get a sunburn. It also helps prevent skin cancer.
Now your ears are perking up, huh? Chocolate that’s rich in flavonoids may decrease the severity of a burn. One study showed a 15 percent decrease in redness from sunburn after six weeks of drinking flavonoid-rich cocoa, and a 25 percent decrease after 12 weeks. Don’t worry, try one of these guilt-free chocolate recipes.
4. Almonds and Sunflower Seeds
The vitamin E in foods like almonds and sunflower seeds helps repair cell damage, along with vitamin C. Eating these foods can help minimize sunburn if you eat them before going out in the sun. Try these cinnamon-roasted almonds or this fresh blueberry chicken salad with almonds.
Omega-3 fatty acids for the win again! A specific type of omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA) may help prevent sunburn as well as decrease DNA damage in the skin. You can find EPA in salmon and cod liver oil. Omega-3s also help fight inflammation, so if you do get burnt, perhaps they will help lessen the severity. Give one of these easy baked salmon recipes a try.
Along with blueberries, hazelnuts, and sorghum, grape seeds (and the wine that’s made from the grapes) contain proanthocyanidins, which just might help decrease UV radiation damage. Cheers to that! Try one of these 7 ways to eat grapes … or go pour yourself a glass of wine.
Lycopene, the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red hue, can help prevent sunburn. It’s the most effective after eating it daily for three months. As a bonus, lycopene also helps increase the collagen in the skin, keeping it more elastic and preventing sagging. Don’t like tomatoes? Watermelon is chockfull of lycopene, too. Mix things up with one of these 15 summer tomato recipes.
8. Carrots, Red Peppers, Mangos, Melons, Apricots, and Sweet Potatoes
9. Green Tea
Help block UV rays by drinking up the good stuff — green tea, that is. The polyphenols in green tea may help stop sunburn in its tracks, whether you drink it or put it directly on your skin. Try this watermelon green tea punch, the perfect refreshing summer drink.
10. Citrus Fruit
Vitamin C, found abundantly in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, can not only help stop but also repair damage done to your cells due to UV rays. It works best when combined with vitamin E. Unlike tomatoes, which have to be eaten habitually before having the ability to protect you from sunburn, eating foods high in vitamin C before heading out in the sun can help prevent or lessen the extent of a burn.