Protecting your skin from the inside out is a great excuse to eat the rainbow this summer! A safe sunscreen (like zinc oxide) is your best bet when it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. But did you know that you can increase your skin’s resistance to damage, aging, and even cancer with certain healthy foods?
Plants have their own built-in protection against the damaging effects of the sun. When you eat foods derived from these plants, you consume those protective compounds known as phytonutrients. These phytonutrients such as carotenoids, flavonoids, flavanols to name a few help boost your skin’s natural ability to protect itself by stimulating the synthesis of melanin and by chasing away free radicals caused by UV rays and and many other environmental toxins. These plant nutrients are also known as anti oxidants, and they cruise around the body searching for free radicals so that they can neutralize these free radicals and promptly escort them out of the body. This antioxidant protection allows the skin cells to regenerate new healthy cells and reduce your risk from skin cancer, sun spots and wrinkles. A study published in 2010 came to conclusions that food nutrients can protect not only against skin cancer, but photo-oxidative damage that leads to skin aging. Scientists noted that antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, in addition to essential fatty acids, have demonstrated protective properties against UV rays. This makes sense as there are many regions in the world like the Mediterranean, where incidents of skin cancer are low even thought their exposure to the sun is very high. Mediterranean diets are rich in plant nutrients and low in highly processed foods. SO what do you eat this summer to protect your skin?
Carotenoids: Carrots, red & orange bell peppers, watermelon, squash, tomatoes, dandelions, marigolds
Curcuminoids: Turmeric root, black pepper
flavonoids: green tea, citrus fruits, apples, kale, onions, berries
Resveratrol: red grapes, red wine (moderation), dark chocolate, blueberries
Glucosinolates: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflour and the baby versions of these plants like broccoli sprouts, micro greens have much higher counts of the antioxidants than their adult versions.
Bottom line, eat the rainbow this summer! Mix it up and keep those local organic fruits and vegetables high in your diet.
SUN PROTECTION SALAD:
1 bell pepper finely diced
2 carrots finely chopped
1/4c sweet pea shoots
1/4c micro greens of choice
3c baby spinach
1/2c baby tomatoes halved
1/4c unsprayed dandelion heads or nasturtiums (optional)
1/4c extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
2 tbls white wine vinegar
1 tables fresh squeezed orange juice
1tbls fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 small shallot finely diced
1 tbls orange zest
pinch of sea salt and drop of honey
Mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. top salad with dressing and toss well then top the salad with the flower heads.
Serve with a fresh local grilled trout or grass fed meat and a side of watermelon and blueberry salad!