Believe it or not some of the foods you eat contain nutrients that are capable of offering photo-protective benefits to the skin. This week we will look at some of these foods that can provide added sun protection to your skin.

Brazil nuts are nature’s richest source of selenium, an anti-oxidant mineral that has the ability to lessen the damage that UV rays have on skin. In 2009 a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that higher levels of selenium in the blood reduced the risk of skin cancer by half!

Green tea is another wonderful skin food. The polyphenols it contains reduce the skin inflammation and DNA damage caused by excessive sun exposure.

Carotenoids are a valuable group of nutrients that give fruit and vegetables their bright colours (yellow, green, red, or orange). Many studies have shown that this complex group of nutrients neutralize free radicals and significantly improve the skins ability to protect itself from the sun. Betacarotene is the most efficient nutrient in this family. It is found in orange and yellow fruits (mangoes and papayas), orange and yellow vegetables and green leafy vegetables.

Lycopene, found in tomatoes and attributed to their red color, has also been shown to greatly reduce and in some cases, prevent the formation of redness on exposure to UV. In one study, people who consumed tomato paste daily showed an average of 40% less redness and smoother skin than the control group. It is also worth noting that natural lycopene from tomatoes was found to be more effective than the synthetic version.

This week’s message is to ensure you eat your vegetables and drink your green tea to boost your skin’s natural sun screening ability.