5 Foods that Reverse Sun Damage
If you want to eat well to help your skin look younger, start by choosing these antioxidant-rich foods.
from Best Health | Summer 2012
Antioxidants and sunlight: What you need to know
Most of us wear sunscreen and cover up with a hat and long sleeves when we can, but there’s no way to avoid all sunlight exposure. A double-blind, controlled trial from 2002 concluded that eating antioxidants helps to protect skin from sun damage—certain foods contain nutrients that help it repair and rejuvenate itself. But did you know that the amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight? Scary. So it’s important to make sure there’s a consistent presence of antioxidants in the skin. Here are the top five foods that help.
Juicy and tart Montmorency cherries are your best source of the antioxidant melatonin. Other cherries have it, too, but Montmorency has the most. Melatonin protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. Researchers have discovered that this powerful little nutrient also helps repair sunburned skin, since
it stimulates new skin-cell growth. Cherries are also packed with vitamin C, which is needed to build collagen—your skin’s natural “scaffolding” and a wrinkle preventer.
They aren’t just a cute addition to a kebab, they’re packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. Crimini mushrooms have one of the highest selenium contents of all the foods we eat. This trace mineral is needed to make one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, which fights damaging compounds called free radicals that form in the skin during sunlight exposure. Plus, crimini mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, which are needed to create new, youthful-looking skin cells.
Hot green tea isn’t a popular picnic basket drink, but iced green tea can be your “go-to” refreshment this summer. Scientists have discovered that an antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), fights inflammation in the skin. EGCG neutralizes free radicals, reducing their ability to cause damage that leads to inflammation. It even helps prevent wrinkles and other skin issues. The Journal of Nutrition reported in 2011 that women who consumed a drink with green tea polyphenols for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin elasticity, roughness, scaling and moisture content. Black tea helps, too; it has quercetin, known for its skin-protecting antioxidant abilities.
Tossing some pomegranate seeds onto your summer salads may be good for your skin, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin. Pomegranates have a high antioxidant content, and have been found to offer anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin. And scientists have discovered that nutrients in pomegranates can reduce the ability of UVB radiation to cause cancer-promoting damage in skin cells, including alteration of NF-kappa, a pre-cancerous biomarker.
Okay, so omega-3 fatty acids are not antioxidants. But adding fatty fish like salmon to your summer menu will help protect skin from the damaging inflammation caused by sun exposure. These good fats also help keep skin hydrated and radiant. In addition, all fish are a great source of selenium and protein—which are needed for skin repair.
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