Prevention & Recovery

Sun-safety foods

Sun-safety foods

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

Sun-safety foods

From bikinis and tank tops to suntan lotion and sun hats -- as Canadians, we revel in every minute of sunshine we can get in our short summer months.

What is your best sun-safety tip or product? Share with other readers in the comments section, below!

While enjoying the summer, it is also important to practice some sun safety guidelines for protection against skin cancers, cataracts and pre-mature wrinkling. According to expert consensus, the sun should be avoided when the UV index rating is 3 or higher. In addition, experts now agree that 5-10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure in low sun times is beneficial for the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and muscles, helps prevent fractures in the elderly and is a powerful anti-cancer nutrient. When the sun does reach a higher UV index rating, cover up with clothing and sun lotion with an SPF factor.

Along with the above recommendations, there are also specific foods that have been shown to be photo-protective -- helping to repair UV damage caused by the sun, decrease redness and improve the look of skin. These foods should be eaten in abundance during the summer months and include:

Green tea
In addition to being a powerful anti-cancer and boosting metabolism, green tea has been shown to be beneficial for skin. In fact, green tea is now popping up in a myriad of skin care products and is being touted as an "anti-aging", "anti-wrinkle" ingredient. When applied topically, green tea has been shown to decrease the direct effects of sunburn. In addition, drinking green tea provides and abundant amount of anti-oxidants which help slow down the aging process. Lastly, green tea has been shown to decrease inflammation caused by sun exposure.

Tomatoes and watermelon
The red hue of tomatoes and watermelon are indicative of a powerful plant chemical called lycopene. Lycopene has been well documented to provide protection against a variety of cancers including prostate cancer. In terms of sun protection, lycopene has been shown to reduce skin cell damage and redness caused by the sun. Watermelon is topping the charts in terms of lycopene amount with a whopping 40 per cent more lycopene in comparison to raw tomatoes. When eating tomatoes, try to eat them with a healthy fat in order to increase the absorption of lycopene. For example, put a teaspoon of olive oil in your tomato sauce.

All fruits are known for their health benefits, however, blueberries appear to be topping the charts for their anti-oxidant value. According to the US Department of Agriculture Analyses, blueberries have 40 per cent more antioxidant capacity than strawberries. Blueberries are high in vitamin C and can help prevent skin cancers and reduce the signs of aging.

Cold-water fish or fish oils
By eating cold water fish such as salmon and tuna or supplementing with fish oils, you will reap the benefit of the derivative of omega-3 fats called EPA. EPA has been shown to decrease inflammation, provide moisture to skin and prevent UV damage. When selecting fish, choose light tuna instead of white albacore tuna (which is lower in mercury) and wild salmon instead of farmed salmon (lower in chemical pollutants called PCB's). When choosing a fish oil supplement, choose one that is distilled and enteric coated in capsule form.

Wishing you a wonderful and healthy fun-filled summer!

Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of national bestseller The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2006). For more information, visit

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Prevention & Recovery

Sun-safety foods