Foods That Improve SPF

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Some studies show that you can actually eat your sunscreen.

No, I don’t mean grab the bottle of SPF 50 and spread it over your morning cereal. What I mean is that it appears that what you eat might have a big influence on how sensitive you are to the sun’s rays. It all boils down to something I’m sure you’ve heard about—free radicals—rogue molecules that travel through our bodies sucking energy out of our healthy cells and mutating our DNA. Our bodies naturally produce these little nasty dudes when we’re exposed to UVA and UVB rays from the sun. One way to block the formation of free radicals? A diet rich in antioxidants.

A lot of clinical research still needs to be done about the connection between sun damage, free radicals, and antioxidants, but for now, you can help supplement your daily sunscreen regimen by eating a diet packed full of antioxidant foods. Luckily, antioxidant-rich foods are not only absolutely delicious, but also readily available.

Here are a few of my favorite options:

Salmon

I just heard a collective groan from the fish-haters, but I promise you, it’s really important to get on the fatty-fish bandwagon. Learn to love it because salmon is packed with Omega-3s, which help reduce inflammation, which can help reduce UV damage done by free radicals. If you just can’t get over your distaste for fish, make sure you find an organic, well-reviewed Omega-3 supplement to take daily.

Red-skinned Fruits and Veggies

Grab yourself a big bowl of berries for breakfast because red-skinned produce packs a powerful antioxidant punch. If you have a garden, make sure to plant plenty of tomatoes because they are a clinically proven way to reduce damage caused by UV rays. I make sure to always have a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes in my kitchen to snack on. Basically, if it’s a naturally grown fruit or vegetable with a red, pink or orange skin, it’s got antioxidants in it.

Dark Chocolate

Three cheers for chocolate being good for you! Dark chocolate has been shown to provide some UV protection when ingested over a long period of time. The key? It must be dark chocolate. For your best bet, look for 70-90% cocoa bars (normally available in the natural food section of the grocery store) and eat a small square or two everyday. Yes. Eat chocolate. Everyday. You’re welcome.

What’s your favorite antioxidant-rich food?

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!