This summer, while you’re soaking up some of this fantastic sunshine add some of these delicious foods into your diet, and protect your skin.

The health of our diet — specifically antioxidant intake — influences how affected we are by the sun. Antioxidants and the pigments that color fruits and vegetables help prevent sun damage to skin cells. Here’s why, living plants have to protect themselves from UV rays, just like we do. Plants use color pigments as a sunscreen, so the more colorful the food is, usually the higher it’s UV protection. When we consume colorful fruits and veggies, these pigments act as antioxidants and help defend us from UV rays in the same way they protect the plants. Here are a few of my favorite sunscreen foods. Enjoy!

Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice. In fact, there are as many antioxidants in one teaspoon of cinnamon as a full cup of pomegranate juice or ½ cup of blueberries. To bring more cinnamon into your diet try adding it to tea (I like steeped dandelion root). Add cream and honey, and enjoy. It’s a delicious combination, and you can drink this beverage cold or hot. Try it iced during the summer.

Pomegranate was named by the Romans and translates to “seed apple” in Latin. It’s deep garnet color delivers a high dose of antioxidant phytochemicals. Quick tip: If you’re deseeding the pomegranate yourself submerge the entire fruit under water and then remove the seeds. This keeps the splatter casualties’ way down.

Blueberries & Strawberries are high in anthocyanins, the colorful pigments that give many foods their gorgeous shades of blue, purple, and red. These berries are renowned for their antioxidant power, and I love serving them with heavy whipping cream. It’s the perfect summer dessert.

Watermelon: Rich in lycopene, a bright red carotenoid that has been shown to protect our skin from harmful UV damage, watermelons can help reduce the risk for skin cancer. Watermelons have 40 percent more lycopene than tomatoes, and nibbling on this water-rich fruit can help protect you from sunburns and sun damage.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the delicious antioxidant foods you can choose from. This summer, remember that the most colorful foods tend to provide the most UV protection. Eat vibrant colors, and you’ll be doing your body and skin good in more ways than one. Also, if you’re buying topical sunscreen, look at every ingredient and search the EWG database to check safety first. If you can’t eat the ingredients don’t put them on your skin.

Happy Summer!


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