Foods That Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage

Lather up! You’ve heard that sunscreen is an essential for a beach day or any day–UVA rays are just as strong in the winter as they are in the summer. There’s really no replacement for it, not even an SPF tinted moisturizer, but there are foods lurking in your produce aisles that can provide a potent double-team against skin damage. Bonus: some of them are meant to be enjoyed on the beach.

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Green Tea

Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2011, people who drank a beverage containing green tea polyphenols daily for 12 weeks had skin that was more elastic and smooth, and had one-quarter less sun damage when exposed to UV light compared to a control group. “The brew’s catechins like EGCG (antioxidants) boost blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which delivers key nutrients to keep your complexion healthy,” explained dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engleman.


“Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV light,” Engleman said. This includes wavelengths that can actually get through the sunscreen and reach your skin. Bonus: just one cup of kale gives you more than 130 percent of your daily values of skin-firming vitamins C and A.


image: rouzes

image: rouzes

According to Dr. Engleman berries including blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries are great for the skin because they are packed with antioxidants. They protect against free radical damage caused by the sun.


Your morning coffee habit is good for your grogginess and your skin. In one study of more than 93,000 women published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. And the more they drank—up to about 6 cups or so per day—the lower their risk.

Dark Chocolate

image: fcafotodigital

image: fcafotodigital

That’s right, a doctor is recommending you eat your chocolate. Just check that label to make sure it contains 65 percent or more of raw cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant which protects the skin from UV radiation. Seven ounces per week seems to do the trick. Red wine also contains flavonoids however, dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum cautioned, “don’t overdo it.”