Health experts confirm that the best way to avoid getting sunburnt is to slap on a high protection sunscreen. But, if you do end up a little red and sore at the end of a sunny day, eating certain foods could also help to reduce any discomfort and inflammation.
How’s that possible? Some types of foods are rich in antioxidants, which can work a bit like a natural sunscreen, while others contain key substances that heal the skin. Here are some top foods to stock up on this summer to keep sunburn at bay.
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Strawberries are just made for summer snacking, so it’s handy to know that they can also soothe sunbaked skin. Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage to the skin. Phytonutrients in this fruit also work like a natural sunscreen.
Studies have shown that when you combine vitamin C rich foods with those high in vitamin E, this potent pairing can calm sunburn down even further. So, munch on strawberries with a handful of nuts or seeds, or add strawberries to fortified cereals for breakfast.
Carrots are a useful source of beta-carotene, which gets converted by the body into vitamin A. Studies have found that those people who regularly eat carrots experience less red and sore skin after sun exposure. The beta-carotene in carrots also encourages the body to create melanin, which absorbs sunlight on the skin and protects it from damage.
Whether you eat them cooked, fresh, in a soup or as ketchup sauce, tomatoes are bursting with an antioxidant called lycopene. This superhero substance is great news for sore, sun-exposed skin as it works to dampen down inflammation caused by UV damage.
The seeds of a pomegranate or fresh juice contain a powerful antioxidant called ellagic acid. Studies have found that this can counteract some of the negative effects caused by UVA and UVB rays. Participants from one particular study found that regular consumption of pomegranates helped to treat skin that was sunburnt.
A good quality dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa can provide a number of health benefits. Not least, it can help to save your skin after excess sun exposure. This is because dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants known as flavonoids. These neutralise free radicals from sun damage, helping to heal skin from sunburn. Flavonoids also improve blood flow to skin and keep it hydrated, which are key in reducing inflammation and soreness from sun exposure. Even better, researchers have found that dark chocolate can make skin look smoother, so could have anti-ageing properties.
A highly nutritious choice for breakfast, oatmeal might also prove useful if you’ve overdone it outdoors on a sunny day. Researchers have found that oatmeal contains generous amounts of vitamin D, and exposure to this vitamin around one hour after exposure to UV rays can minimise skin swelling and redness. Oatmeal also boasts high levels of an antioxidant called avenanthramides, which are mighty fighters of skin-damaging free radicals. As well as eating oatmeal, pasting it cold onto your skin after sun exposure can help to soothe and calm it down. Alternatively, cooled green tea dabbed on the skin can also take the sting out of sunburn.