Nothing is better on a hot July day than a garden-fresh tomato sandwich or a sweet refreshing slice of watermelon. Now, researchers are promoting the consumption of these foods as a means to protect ourselves from sun damage. Studies in the United States and Britain conducted on both animals and humans have reached the same conclusion —- there is a secret ingredient in certain foods that can reduce skin damage and the aging effects of harmful sun rays. That ingredient is a super antioxidant known as lycopene. It is the red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, red oranges and paprika.
Tomatoes are very high in lycopene, but watermelons have 40 percent more of the age-defying chemical. Other foods, like broccoli, green leafy vegetables, bran, legumes, orange zest, green tea, pomegranate and omega-3 fish, contain other antioxidants that help protect the body against the sun’s radiation and reduce inflammation caused by the sun. However, watermelon and tomatoes are the stand-outs.
On the flip-side, there are foods that can make your system more susceptible to sun sensitivity. Foods not to take on a picnic include carrots, celery, parsley and limes. Drinking margaritas beside the pool while munching on celery and carrot sticks would definitely be a bad idea.
As a precautionary note, please don’t think antioxidant foods can replace your sunscreen. Sun damage should not be taken lightly because it can lead to skin cancers. Lycopene foods should be thought of as added protection, not as a cure-all.