Just about everyone dreams of having that golden bronze glow, the light kiss from the summer sun. But in recent years, there have been more and more concerns about the effects of sun on the largest organ of the body, the skin. Aside from looking dry and leathery when we’re old, skin cancer is a verifiable danger. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime and while some skin cancers are more easily treatable, some types like melanoma can be deadly.


Even those of us who are naturally darker skinned could still be at risk. It turns out that a healthy diet rich in particular foods might just provide some helpful options beyond lathering chemical-laden sunscreen on your body. It seems the body’s ability to protect against the sun is actually part of a larger process which can be improved by eating healthy foods. Our mothers weren’t joking when they told us to eat our fruits and vegetables.

Of course, it’s still advisable to use some sunscreen according to body type and need. It’s an even better idea to wear a large hat and clothing that covers the most burn-prone areas of the body. Eating three carrots and then taking an all day boating excursion won’t provide the necessary protection. But if we want to help prevent cancer and be healthier in other ways as well, these foods might just do the trick.



Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in plants that’s also been suggested by researchers to be beneficial in preventing heart attacks. Two for one and it’s so tasty too! In a study done at a University in Dusseldorf, some participants drank hot chocolate that was high in flavonoids while the others did not. Both groups were exposed to the same amount of UV light. The group who had drank the flavonoid rich beverage not only had less reddening of the skin but it was also smoother and moister. So feel free to stock up on nature’s melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Just pay attention to the sugar and milk content. Remember, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the greater number of flavonoids will be present to knock out those free radicals before they can do any damage. For the most beneficial purposes, it should be at least 60% cocoa or higher.



Beta carotene is that red-orange pigment found in many fruits and vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes. Beta carotene has been proven to reduce risk of sunburn. Like dark chocolate, carrots contain flavonoids and also Vitamin A which helps protect your eyes as well. Another study done in Germany suggests that broccoli and dry apricots are also high in beta carotene and that eating these foods regularly “protect the skin significantly against sunburn”.



Tomatoes, watermelon and papaya have something in common. They all contain a substance called Lycopene which is an all star player. Not only does it protect against many types of cancers but it might also reduce your risk of heart disease. And it’s been used to fight HPV, cataracts and asthma. In a study done in the UK, tomato paste was specifically studied to find out its effects on the skin. The results of the study found that the Lycopene in the tomato paste does indeed protect against both short and long term affects of the sun. Some other foods high in this source are pink grapefruit, guava, persimmons, liver pate, chili powder, red cabbage and dried parsley and basil. So add some fresh tomatoes, parsley and basil to that pasta you just cooked. Or chomp down on juicy summer watermelon knowing it’s helping more than just your taste buds.



Green tea has this compound called epigallocatechin gallate. Say that five times fast. Or you could just go with the abbreviation EGCG. This naturally occurring chemical has a lot of great benefits such as weight loss, heart health and protecting against UV radiation. It’s also been shown to resist growth of other types of cancer cells plus possibly preventing Alzheimer’s disease. And to add to the ever expanding list of good stuff, green tea can also keep the body from manufacturing histamine which means it could stop or minimize your allergic reactions. Just be advised, if you’re sensitive to caffeine you might want to limit your intake to one cup per day. While green tea contains less caffeine than coffee or black tea, it still has a significant amount.


Wild salmon is high in something known as omega-3 fish oils whose benefits are extensive for the skin in general. In a study done at the University of Manchester, researchers found that these types of oils made skin less likely to feel bad affects from sunlight and that additionally they put a damper on suppression of the immune system caused by sunlight. In other words, if any bad sun rays do break through, your body is more able to fight them. Wild salmon also contains an antioxidant that goes by the long-winded name astaxanthin which is apparently a large amount (like 1000) times more effective than vitamin E. Some other sources of Omega 3’s include sardines, mackerel, flaxseeds and walnuts.