30 Foods That Protect Your Body against Harmful Sunrays

30 Foods That Protect Your Body against Harmful Sunrays
August 20, 2014 1:17 AM

In this post readers can find information about 30 foods, which help our body become protected against harmful sunrays. The article is quite long and is based on current information available to scientists. Remember that eating well just helps the body deal with harmful effects of sunrays and that for proper protection, it is always necessary to apply sufficient amounts of quality sun protection creams.

Are sunrays harmful?

Nothing feels better than basking under sun in cold weather. It feels good to let the sunrays heat up your core and it soothes your body too- going out in a summer sun is perhaps not that soothing.

But did you know that even normal sunlight can inflict significant damage if you come into contact with it for too long?

If no then you seriously need to learn more about it because it poses a serious threat to your skin and health as a whole. Before we can mention the harmful effects of sunrays and how to ward off these effects using helpful foods, you need to know some basics here. The light you see, coming from the sun, is divided into three components (or spectra, something that science students should be familiar with). One component or spectra is the part that we see, the seven colors of light that human eye can appreciate.

Sunset in Ukraine. Sun is nice but may be dangerous.

But that’s not it. There are two more spectra of light that you can’t see with normal human eye. One spectrum is microwave and the other one is the ultraviolet spectrum, commonly known as UV rays. It’s the UV light that poses a huge threat to your health and skin and if you go outside uncovered, you’re more likely to absorb a lot of this light.

The reason UV light is so dangerous is the energy that it carries with itself. This type of light can damage body tissues and can even mutate your genes.

Now we come to answer the question that must be boggling your mind by now “What are the harms of excessive exposure to sunrays?”

The damaging effects of sunrays can range from trivial things like minor skin burns to something as devastating like cancers, don’t freak out but it actually happens.

Here is the list of possible outcomes of excessive exposure to sunrays

  • Ever been to mountains? If yes then you would have definitely seen someone getting skin burns (I, myself, got skin burns recently). But you don’t have to climb to the mountains to catch skin burns. Whenever your skin absorbs too much of scorching and direct sunlight, the results are never too good. The skin becomes excessively red (erythematous) and starts to peel off. Unless that is what you want you should stay away from extra sun light.
  • People frequently go to the beaches in an attempt to get a nice tanned skin. Unless this is what you desire, sunrays can cause skin tanning and can make your skin tone uneven (havoc for females especially).
  • Research has shown that too much exposure to sun light can cause premature aging of skin. The signs of which include appearance of wrinkles, dark circles, skin pigmentation, loss of tightness, crow feet and so on. If you want to look younger for long then staying away from sunlight is the simplest thing you can do.
  • Your immune system is something that keeps infections at bay. But too much sunlight is what destroys your immune system and this is when you become susceptible to even minor infections.
  • It is difficult to see in bright light but the effects of sunrays on eyes are not just limited to this transient effect. Too much exposure to sunlight can permanently affect vision and can trigger diseases like cataracts.
  • It might sound like something happening in a sci-fi movie to you but sunlight can actually damage your DNA. Cells with mutant DNA grow in an uncontrolled manner and the result is cancer. Skin melanoma or skin cancer is caused due to excessive exposure to sunrays and is most common in countries that get abundant sunrays.

But before you can sit in a dark room completely avoiding any sunlight you must know that sunlight is very important as well. Sunrays, in moderation, can boost the synthesis of vitamin D - an important vitamin that controls the balance of calcium inside your body. The key here is moderation.

Sunrays in moderate amount can be extremely beneficial for your health but once you cross a line and get exposed to too much sunrays, the results are usually very devastating.

Beat the sunrays with super cool foods!

If you don’t want to be restricted to indoors during even summers and want to live your life to the fullest then you certainly need to make some arrangements. Stay hydrated, apply skin block while going outside, and cover your head and other exposed parts of your body well to minimize the rays coming in contact with your skin. But you can also strengthen your body against harmful sunrays from the inside by eating the right kind of foods is perhaps the best option you have.

We’ve compiled a list of 30 super foods that can knock out the heat and can also save you from the damage done by scorching sunrays.

Tomatoes

Eating tomatoes lately? If no then you certainly need to reconsider your meal plans and recipes to include a lot of tomatoes. You might be in the habit of separating out tomatoes from the salads (I’ve been doing this myself till I read the study mentioned later) but you need to eat some tomatoes if you come into contact with sunrays quite often.

Skeptic?

Let me tell you that this fact has been proven by several studies as well. A study was published in the British Journal of Dermatology that studies the effects of eating tomatoes on women exposed to sun. The study included 20 women between the ages 21 to 47. Researchers concluded that women who ate a quarter cup of tomatoes or four tablespoons of tomatoes mixed with olive oils daily for three months were more protected from the harmful effects of sunrays and were less likely to suffer from skin burn as compared to women who ate olive oil alone.

Fresh tomatoes

But what makes tomatoes so important?

The answer to this question lies in the high level of anti-oxidant substances present in tomatoes. Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene. Lycopenes are powerful antioxidant compounds that have the ability to protect the body from the damage done by UV radiation, mainly by scavenging free radicals. So tomatoes are nature’s sunscreen that protects your body from within. So eat tomatoes raw, add them in your salads, soups or meals and enjoy their refreshing taste with a bundle of health benefits.

Carrots

If you’re a veggie lover than here is a good news for you! Carrots are an important food that can save you from the wrath of the sun. If you’re not into vegetables then you should reconsider and make friends with vegetables, especially carrots. Before we can mention how carrots work in protecting you from sun, we’ll first prove that carrots actually help in protecting you from sunrays.

A study was conducted in Korea that studied the effects of eating carrots in women. 30 healthy females were given 30 milligrams of beta-carotene (a key component of carrots present in as much as six carrots) for as long as 3 months. The results were very promising and showed multiple benefits of carrots on skin.

First, carrots, due to high content of water in them, saved the users from skin burn. Second, due to high levels of anti-oxidants in them carrots were successful in protecting and repairing cells from excessive damage. Moreover, carrots were actually helpful in slowing down the aging process in users. Now that we’ve proved our point, we’ll now tell you how carrots work. Carrots are extremely rich in very potent anti-oxidant, beta carotene for instance. These anti-oxidants guard your cells from the damage inflicted by agitated sunrays. Now the final decision is up to you. You can either let the sunrays burn your skin or you can enjoy the taste as well as health benefits of eating carrots.

There are countless ways you can use carrots. You can make a soup from carrots, can add them in your diet or can make a refreshing salad with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables.

Another refreshing way (I personally prefer this way) is by drinking a glass full of carrot juice. Or you can just eat carrots raw while doing chores, as a snack. Not only will this suppress your appetite but will also put a shield against the sunrays.

Sweet potatoes

I personally love sweet potatoes snacks. But did you know that this tasty snack can actually shield your skin from harmful sunrays? What makes sweet potatoes able to fight sunrays is its high content of beta carotenes. Remember role of beta carotenes in carrots? The same is their role when in sweet potatoes.

Raw sweet potatoes on wooden board

They scavenge free radicals from your skin and reverse aging and burning started by sunrays. Here are some recopies to how you can use sweet potatoes. Simplest is by boiling sweet potatoes, peeling off their skin and eating them as such. You can sprinkle a little chili powder and lemon on it to add spice to it. Another way is by making grilled sweet potatoes. For this you would need a fresh sweet potatoes, chili powder, oregano, pepper and olive oil.

First cut the sweet potato in the form of rounded disks (not too thick not too thin). Now apply a little olive oil on these disks and apply the paste of chili powder, pepper and oregano. Grill these pieces till they’re golden brown. There you’ve it; a sweet summer snack that would protect from the sun.

Green Veggies

It’s a scientifically proven fact that people eating green, fresh veggies tend to live longer and healthier than those who totally rely on meat and meat products. The more colorful your plate is, the better it is for health. It means the more you fill your plate with different vegetables, the better it is for your health.

Vegetables contain a perfect combination of vitamins, mineral and anti-oxidant substances that are proven to benefit your health. Same goes for your skin too. When you fill your plate with veggies, you’re actually filling your body with much needed antioxidants that save your body from the damaging effects of sunrays and heat. It is better that you go for deeper color vegetables instead of light colored ones, the reason of this rule of thumb is explained by Harold Lancer, M.D., a Beverly Hills–based dermatologist “The general rule of thumb is the deeper the color of the vegetable, the more nutritious it is and the more valuable the antioxidants, which help reverse free-radical damage in the body” Make salads, soups or meals from these vegetables. Eat them raw or whatever way you want, they’re equally beneficial for your skin and overall health.

Watermelons

Watermelons are an excellent way to fight off the heat and damaging effects of sunrays. Two ingredients of watermelons make it a critical yet natural SPF for your skin. The first ingredient is water, a lot of water. Watermelons contain as much as 99% water. Doctors always insist that you drink loads of water in summer.

Grilled watermelon with honey

The reason being that water saves you from dehydrates and saves your skin from sunrays. Second thing that makes watermelon a natural SPF food for summers is its high content of a natural anti-oxidant substance called lycopene- it’s the same lycopene as we previously discussed in the tomatoes. You can eat watermelons in whatever you want. Personally I prefer taking out a cold watermelon from my fridge and cutting it down into slices. Sometimes I sprinkle a pinch of salt on it to make it taste even better. You can multiply the health benefits by adding watermelons in fruits and vegetable salads.

Strawberries

Fruit lovers, gather around here now comes the age of fruits that can save you from sun in a tasty manner. First in our list of fruits are strawberries. This red colored fruit tickles your taste buds and bestows you with countless health benefits. Naturally strawberries are very rich in anti-oxidants like vitamin C. Vitamin C is another member of antioxidant family and is particularly beneficial for health. It clears away damaging free radicals. Second, high content of vitamin C helps in the synthesis of a protein called collagen. Collagen is a basic component of your skin and absence of which can cause wrinkling. That’s why eating strawberries can limit the aging process that sunrays can trigger.

Enjoy eating strawberries as such or after adding them in fruit salads. You can also enjoy a glass of strawberry juice or strawberry smoothies or simple strawberry milkshake. Eating a couple of strawberries each day can lighten your complexion and give you a younger, healthy looking skin even in the sunlight.

Kiwis

Did you know kiwis contain more vitamin C than any other fruit? You know rest of the theory how vitamin C works in protecting the skin from the damage inflicted by the harmful sunrays. So enjoy kiwi fruit alone or in a fruit salad and beat the summer in an enjoyable and healthy manner.

Orange

Drinking a glassful of orange juice is healthy and refreshing ways to kick start your mornings. Orange belongs to the family of citrus fruits. Nature has blessed citrus foods with one of the most potent anti-oxidant substances.

Glass and Pitcher full of orange juice

Yes, you guessed it right! It is vitamin C. Orange is one of the few fruits that are naturally very high in vitamin C. We’ve already discussed the role of vitamin C in protecting the skin from harmful sunrays. If you’re in the habit of drinking fresh fruit juices then orange juice should be your top priority if you live in an area that get excessive sunlight.

Almonds

If you think that list of our antioxidant substances has ended then you’re absolutely wrong, we’re just getting started. Another nature’s most powerful antioxidant is vitamin E. Vitamin E saves the body from the harms of antioxidants and makes it healthy from inside. A nut that is naturally very rich in this antioxidant is almond. If you’re a nut lover then eating a handful of almonds each day is best for your skin. You can eat them as such or can use them as a garnish in your salads, soups, smoothies and drinks.

Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away; you must have heard this. But we say “An apple a day keeps the skin cancer at bay!” Remember from our previous discussion that sunrays are the leading cause of skin cancer. This is what apples are for. But apples are useful only when you use them along with their peel. According to a study done in the Cornell University, the peel of apple contains several important substances called terpenoids. These chemicals are scientifically proven tonics for skin cancer as they can prevent the development of skin cancer in first place.

Green tea

Enough with cold fruits and fruit drinks, let’s give you a warm beverage for a change that you can enjoy in the evenings or at night. One such beverage is green tea. You must have heard green tea burning fat but it is also very beneficial for your skin. Green tea is extremely rich in an anti-oxidant called EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate). This substance is specific for green tea. EGCG fights antioxidants and inflammation caused by free radicals.

Cup of green tea

This way green tea protects you from damaging sunrays from within. Also green tea is very beneficial for skin health, complexion, aging and glow. But one thing that you should keep in mind is that the green tea you choose is free of caffeine. Caffeine is a dehydrating agent and drinking too much of caffeine containing green tea can actually do more harm than good.

Fish

Grilling becomes a family event on vacations. Beef is the first choice when it comes to grilling but it’s not a good choice if the weather is hot and scorching. A healthy alternative is fish like salmon and trout. What makes them healthy and beneficial for skin is their high content of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid is another powerful anti-oxidant substance with proven benefits for skin against sunrays.

Olives

When it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids how can we forget olives and olive oil? Olive oil and olives are perhaps one of the few things that are naturally high in this powerful anti-oxidant. So make sure to include olives in your meals, soups, salads and fillings. And when it comes to cooking, olive oil should be your first choice instead of animal fats, butter and cheese.

Dark chocolate

If something delicious was missing in our list then here is dark chocolate to fill up that spot. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in anti-oxidants called flavinoids.

Dark chocolate heart

Flavinoids not only shrink your waist but also fight the harmful chemicals in your body from within. But one thing that you should keep in mind is that you should go for dark chocolate instead of sweet chocolate, which is rich in unhealthy sugars and is in fact more damaging for health and brings no good.

Lemon

Everyone loves a glass of cold lemonade in summers, right? It’s a tasty way to fight the wrath of sun and sunrays. Lemon belongs to the same group as oranges i.e. lemons belong to the group of citrus fruits. So lemons, like oranges, are naturally very high in vitamin C, the nature’s antioxidant. You can actually apply lemon juice directly to your skin. You can use lemon in your drinks, salads, soups etc.

Red pepper

It is time to add spice to the menu. Here comes red pepper to your service. Red pepper is especially very beneficial when it comes to the rapid cure of skin burns caused by sunrays. So eating red pepper in summers is a hot and spicy yet healthy idea.

Walnuts

The constituents and health benefits of walnuts are more or less the same as almonds. If you’re the kind of person who would prefer eating nuts as a snack instead of fried stuff then you’re on the right track because the essential oils and antioxidants in these nuts are enough to save you from oxidative stress and its damages. So eat walnuts raw, sprinkle them over your drinks or use them in desserts.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a sweet and sour solution for your skin conditions and it very helpful in saving your from skin burns and negative effects of sunrays. Pomegranate is largely made of water and its rind is very rich in chemicals compounds that are essential for healthy and younger looking skin.

Pomegranate juice in glass

These ingredients can also save you from sunrays and UV radiation burns. So drinking pomegranate juice is another wise choice before going into the sun.

Cucumbers

Till now you might have used cucumbers only as skin mask but after reading this you would start cucumbers as well because cucumbers are also beneficial in protecting your body from the harms of sun. Both the high content of water in cucumber and protective ingredients in it are helpful in the fight against sunrays. So eating cucumbers raw or drinking their juice should be on your menus during summers.

Garlic

The health benefits of garlic are countless. It helps in weight loss, is antiseptic and gives a boost to immunity as well. One use of garlic that you might not have heard till now is its ability to protect from the damage caused by sunrays. Garlic is rich in a chemical called alicin, which is another powerful antioxidant. Drinking a garlic tea, adding it in meals, soups or curries are some of the ways to use it.

Aloe Vera juice

You might have seen, heard or might have yourself tried applying aloe Vera extracts on your skin in case of skin burns or other injuries. But you can actually drink aloe vera juice to protect your body from the side effects of sunrays.

Aloe vera juice

The cooling effect of this drink coupled with its UV rays fighting abilities make it an optimum drink during the summers.

Spinach

Although we’ve mentioned green vegetables already but spinach deserves a special mention here. Spinach is rich in a unique type of antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10. This antioxidant is extremely potent and has substantial power to eliminate free radicals from the body not matter where they come from. Using spinach in salads or making meals from it is what you need to do when you’re exposed to sunrays in day to day life.

Broccoli

I hated eating broccoli when I was a kid and I always refused when my mum asked me to finish my share of broccoli. But when I grew up and read the countless benefits of broccoli I started eating more frequently. An important ability of broccoli is to fight against the damage done by UV radiations. What gives broccoli its UV radiation fighting power is the high content of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) in it. It is a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radicals. So stop acting like kids and start eating your broccoli.

Berries

Berries like blueberries and raspberries are a tasty solution to the problem of sunrays caused skin maladies. Two things are important when it come to berries. One is the high content of antioxidants in them and second thing is their ability to boost the synthesis of collagen. Both these factors are extremely critical when it comes to protection against the damaging radiations of the sun. So enjoy the berries raw, add them in your salads or make a juice out of them.

Goji berries

Although berries have been mentioned before but goji berries deserve a separate mention here. Goji berries are extremely nutritious; in fact it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these are the most nutritious of all berries. These berries are not rich in a single type of anti-oxidant. In fact these berries are rich in multiple types of antioxidant include fatty acids and carotenoids. So goji berries are a must when it comes to offer protection against the damages done by UV radiation.

Flaxseeds

We’ve not mentioned any seeds yet. But don’t worry. Here comes a food that belongs to the category of seeds. Flaxseeds are extremely rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants. If you could make these seeds a part of your routine meals and recipes then I can assure you that you’ll never complain of sun burns in your life. Moreover, researchers also believe that eating flaxseeds can slow down the progression of certain types of cancers and skin cancer is at the top of that list.

Egg

Eggs are something that makes your breakfasts complete and healthy. In fact you can’t image countless recipes and meals being made with using eggs. Eggs have been praised for the perfect combination of amino acids and protein in them but the health benefits of eggs extend far beyond that. Eggs are rich in a compound called lecithin. UV radiations inflict significant damage to you cells at micro level. You might not feel or see that damage but it is actually happening and compromising your health. This is what lecithin puts stop to. Lecithin can boost the repair in cells damaged by harmful UV rays. So eating a scrambled, boiled egg, or an egg omelet is a healthy way to kick start your day and provide extra protection to your skin form harmful UV rays.

Kale

Other than carrots, kale is another source that is rich in beta carotenes. In addition it also contains some other antioxidants that along with beta carotenes can protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation.

Kale juice

Brazil nuts

Selenium is another important mineral that acts as an anti-oxidant and fights against free radicals produced by sunrays. Selenium is very abundantly present in Brazil nuts. In fact eating 1 or 2 Brazil nuts each day is enough to provide your body with much needed selenium that could help you ward off free radicals.

Mushrooms

The last but not the least super food that could help you fight against UV rays induced free radicals is mushrooms. Beta-glucan in mushrooms is responsible for this property of mushrooms.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: August 20, 2014 1:17 AM
Next scheduled update: August 20, 2016 1:17 AM
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