In always-sunny San Diego, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. From painful sunburns to skin cancer, too much sun exposure can have serious consequences.
It’s well-known that the best protection for your skin is wearing a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above and using sun-protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses. However, did you know that eating antioxidant-rich foods can also boost your skin’s sun protection?
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds found in many common foods. They can help fight off harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals in the environment, including those from pollution, contribute to “oxidative stress” on our cells, which can lead to gene mutations like skin cancer.
“Antioxidants help protect against free radical damage and contribute to the body’s natural defense mechanisms,” says Dr. Mofid.
What are some sources of antioxidants?
Antioxidants can be taken internally in food sources. Foods that contain antioxidants include:
- Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
Antioxidants can also be applied directly to your skin in the form of lotions. Many lotions and gels contain antioxidant ingredients, such as vitamin C.
What about antioxidant supplements?
While there are supplements that contain antioxidants, Dr. Mofid recommends sticking to natural sources. “Pills and supplements with antioxidants have not been proven to be helpful. Antioxidants need to be consumed in natural sources. There is no good data to suggest otherwise,” she says.
Research results are mixed when it comes to antioxidant supplement effectiveness, so it’s best to stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and juice.
What else can I do to protect my skin?
While antioxidants can help protect your body from free radicals, diet alone is not enough to reduce your skin cancer risk.
“A healthy, skin-protective lifestyle includes good nutrition, good skin care and external precautions, such as seeking the shade and wearing sunglasses,” says Dr. Mofid.
Here are some other helpful sun protection tips to keep in mind:
- Choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours
- Avoid the sun if possible during peak time (10 am to 4 pm)
- Wear a sun hat with a brim size of at least 3 inches
Not only do antioxidant-rich superfoods help protect your skin against damage, they also taste good. Find healthful recipes and nutrition tips from Sharp experts.