By Kerri-Ann Jennings, Associate Nutrition Editor for EatingWellMagazine
I try to slather on the sunscreen year-round (after all, UV rays shine on gray days too), but in the summer I'm particularly careful to avoid getting burned. And when I read that the FDA recently passed more stringent regulations on sunscreen labeling, as well as reminders to take other precautions to avoid sunburn (hats, staying out of the midday sun), I started thinking about what else I could do to protect my skin. As a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor for EatingWell Magazine, I know that there are some foods that can help protect your skin and soothe sunburn if you do get scorched.
People aren't the only ones who need sun protection -- plants do too. And the compounds that plants make to protect themselves from the sun can also protect us, says Amy Paturel in EatingWell Magazine. One example is carotenoids, found in carrots and dark leafy greens, such as kale. Eating carotenoid-rich foods helps to protect our skin against sunburn, according to Gene Lester, M.S., Ph.D., a plant physiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Try this Lemony Carrot Salad and more healthy carrot recipes. More from EatingWell: Good Foods for Glowing Summer Skin Foods to Shield Your Eyes Foods That Fight Headaches and Pain Naturally
One particular carotenoid -- lycopene, which makes tomatoes and watermelon red -- may be especially effective at protecting your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste or drank about 1 2/3 cups of carrot juice daily, in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks. Then when they were exposed to UV light, they had almost 50 percent less skin reddening than those who didn't have the tomato paste or carrot juice. Supplements, however, weren't as effective -- more reason to dig into tomatoes or watermelon this summer. Try this Watermelon Salsa and more watermelon recipes.
If you get burned, try this topical solution: Halve a cucumber and rub it on scorched skin as you would aloe. Cucumbers contain some Vitamin C, which "can turn down the dial on inflammation damage in the skin," says Alan Logan, N.D., co-author of "Your Skin, Younger" (Sourcebooks, 2010). Try this Cucumber Salad and more summer cucumber recipes. More from EatingWell: Good Foods for Glowing Summer Skin Foods to Shield Your Eyes Foods That Fight Headaches and Pain Naturally
What foods do you use to prevent or soothe sunburn?
Kerri-Ann, a registered dietitian, is the associate editor of nutrition for EatingWell magazine, where she puts her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to work writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.
Follow EatingWell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eatingwell