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Can Vegetables Protect You From The Sun?

When we think of protecting our skin from the sun, sunscreen is likely the first thing to come to mind.  Besides wearing sunscreen, limiting exposure, and wearing protective equipment, such as sun glasses and hats, it is also important to eat certain foods.  If you have ever wondered if vegetables can protect your skin from the sun, they certainly can!  This is because eating certain vegetables can give your body extra support against UV radiation. 

Some daily sun exposure is important for our health.  Our skin synthesizes Vitamin D from sun exposure.  Vitamin D is fittingly nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin”.  Vitamin D plays an important role in aiding our body in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones, nails and hair.  Lack of Vitamin D is associated with depression and anxiety.  On the other hand, too much sun is harmful to our health and skin.  High exposure to UV radiation can cause pre-mature aging and skin cancer.  Reaping the benefits of sunshine comes down to protecting yourself from too much exposure, while also spending time outside.  In addition to protecting yourself using a natural sunscreen, being mindful of the time of day (try to avoid mid-day, or seek more shade during this time), and wearing other protective equipment, eating the right foods will help protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

A whole foods diet is paramount, when it comes to eating foods to boost your sun protection from the inside out.  It is important to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. 

Here are some foods to keep in mind regarding sun protection:

  • Foods High in Beta-Carotene: Studies have shown that eating foods high in beta-carotene, or supplementing with beta-carotene, helps protect the skin from damage caused by sun exposure.  This is due to the fact that beta-carotene acts as an anti-oxidant (cell oxidation is what causes aging).  It is believed that there are additional sun-protection benefits to high beta-carotene foods when compared to supplementation, as other molecules present in foods may absorb UV light and prevent skin damage.  A general rule of thumb is that if the fruit or vegetable is orange or yellowish is color, it is high in beta-carotene.  Some foods include: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, mango and cantaloupe. 
  • Tomatoes:   Research shows that eating tomatoes can offer skin protection; this is credited to a component called lycopene, which is found in high amounts in tomatoes.  Lycopene is considered a strong anti-oxidant, which acts as a protective shield against UV-rays.  Tomatoes also contain a pigment called lutein, which plays a role in skin hydration and increases skin elasticity.  Most of the research done has been on consuming tomato paste.  Try adding tomato paste and fresh tomatoes to different foods; put them in omelets and get creative with making different tomato salads.
  • Olive Oil:  Olive oil is loaded with healthy fats, including omega-3’s, which offer anti-inflammatory properties and protection from sun damage.  Olive oil is also high in Vitamin E, which has been associated with sun protection.  In fact, topical application of olive oil can protect against some sun damage (it is important to note that it is not a substitute to sunscreen, yet can increase your protection when used topically). 

Consuming the above foods, which have sun-protecting properties, is another step you can take when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun, while also reaping the benefits of sun exposure.  It is important to remember that diet is a component of sun-protection, and that it is vital to still protect your skin topically via natural sunscreen, limiting high-sun exposure, and wearing protective equipment.

Edye’s Naturals products are made from plant-based oils, many of which also offer some SPF protection.  These plant oils are able to protect from a portion of the sun’s rays.  For reference, olive oil has an SPF of 8, peppermint oil has an SPF of 7, almond oil has an SPF of 5, and coconut oil has an SPF of 4.  Try applying Edye’s Naturals Face and Body Butter before (in addition to sunscreen, by applying before the sunscreen) and after sun exposure. 

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