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Skin essentials: 9 foods with sun-protective benefits you should have

Your next UV ray protection ingredient is not coming from the sunscreen aisle at the mall but from a grocery store. These foods with sun-protective benefits will help you replenish and rejuvenate. 

During summers, your skin not only needs external protection from the scorching sun and pollution but also internal rejuvenation to recover from lethargy and dehydration. The skin’s epidermis is a highly regenerative barrier that protects the body from UV radiation and pollution, and in order to replenish this layer, what you eat plays a huge role. So, let us look at some of the foods you should eat to give your skin the sun protection it deserves.

Foods with UV protection that will protect your skin


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Joanna Kosinska

Did you know that your favourite fruit can protect you against sun damage and harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun? These berries are a rich source of powerful antioxidants to fight off free radicals that can damage skin from long periods of sun exposure and the stress of daily life. These are also rich in Vitamin C, which helps prevent wrinkles on your skin. Just grab a mouthful of blueberries for breakfast each morning if you are running late, or make an elaborate breakfast, and you are good to go for the day!


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Floh Maier

Summer’s favourite fruit, watermelon is one of the best foods with UV protection your skin needs. Watermelons contain lycopene that absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation. If you keep consuming watermelons daily for a few weeks, your skin is loaded with natural sun protection. Now, isn’t that the dream? Not just that, 92% of watermelon is water, so it is great for keeping your skin hydrated. It is also filled with skin-healthy nutrients like vitamins A, B6 and C, all of which go a long way in protecting your skin.

Green tea

foods with UV protection
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An animal study found that green tea reduced skin damage from UVA light and protected against the decrease of collagen. Collagen is the protein in our body responsible for lending firmness and elasticity to your skin. Also, due to the high content of the polyphenol Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) in green tea, it acts as a great source to promote DNA repair, which ends up replenishing your skin and detoxifying it from all the sun exposure. This is what makes green tea such a great food with UV protection.


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/VD Photography

Think of Vitamin C, and oranges come to mind. But did you know guavas contain five times more Vitamin C than an orange? A guava provides a massive 419% of the daily value of Vitamin C intake required by your body. Foods rich in Vitamin C protect the skin from sun damage because the antioxidants act as a photo protectant. And so, guavas are your skin’s new best friend this summer.

Sweet potato

foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Louis Hansel

Sweet potatoes get their bright orange colour from carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, which give fruits and vegetables that colour. These carotenoids also enrich the skin with antioxidants that act as a protective shield against UV rays. The body converts the phytonutrient beta-carotene to vitamin A, which has been proven to reduce sunburn. Beta-carotene also produces melanin that helps protect the skin from sun exposure.


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Massimiliano Martini

Strawberries contain 108% of the daily value of vitamin C as well as ellagic acid, both of which absorb up free radicals and reduce skin pigmentation. The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry published a paper in 2012 focusing on the photoprotective properties of strawberries. The paper stated that the anthocyanins in strawberries, which are the flavonoids that give fruits their red colour, might be the compound responsible for the fruit’s photoprotective properties. Thus, they lead to replenishing your skin and protecting it from UV damage.


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/ Louis Hansel

Cucumbers are great foods with UV protection. Cucumbers are unsung heroes when it comes to benefits for the skin and the body. Cucumber also helps the body produce collagen, which is the main structural protein in the skin. It contains 96% water, which means they are extremely beneficial in hydrating the skin. The cucumber peel contains silica, which firms up the skin. Also, cucumbers contain vitamin C, caffeic acid, potassium and vitamin K, which are great for treating the sunburns on the skin and acting as a natural sunblock.


foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Elaine Casap

Tomatoes are rich in carotenoids and polyphenols, the two types of powerful plant-based antioxidants whose primary function is to protect chlorophyll from photodamage. So when these vegetables go into your skin, imagine the effects they would have on your skin against sun damage. All red fruits and vegetables, like peppers, papaya, guava and watermelon, contain the antioxidant lycopene. So do tomatoes. Lycopene goes a long way in giving your skin sun protection.

Red wine

foods with UV protection
Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Kelsey Knight

Finally, some wine-y good news! Your favourite alcoholic drink can actually protect your skin from sun damage and UV rays. Red wine has polyphenol antioxidants, which protect you from UV damage. It has been proven that red wine can protect you from sunburn. Polyphenols are found on the skin of the grapes, which is why red wine has more antioxidants than white wine since it is fermented from the skin of these grapes, making it a great food with UV protection.

Sreetama Basu
A self-proclaimed plant mom, Sreetama finds joy wherever she sees greenery. The list of other things that bring her joy is pretty long, but writing about them is her way of celebrating them. In love with little, inconsequential things, like neatly tucked-in bedsheets and big, significant things, like whole cheesecakes. She dreams of being a baker and writing about food someday.
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