12 foods that (along with sunscreen) help prevent sunburn

In the heat of this wonderful summer, did you know that you can eat to help protect your skin against sun damage?

In addition to diligent sunscreen use* and wearing protective clothing, a rich plant-based diet can offer additional sun protection, thanks to naturally occurring sun protective compounds.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lush supply of phytochemicals and other antioxidant compounds that may decrease the amount of skin damage caused by the sun and reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

So here's what you should be noshing during those sunbathing days (in between applications of sunscreen, of course): *by Catriona Harvey-Jenner, June 15, 2016 on Cosmopolitan.com 

1. Strawberries

"Eat a lot of vitamin C-rich berries and fruits such as strawberries, blackberries and kiwi during the summer months," advises Frida. Why? "The vitamin C and the phytonutrient act like a natural sunblock and helps to prevent you from burning," she explains. Well, that's news to us. Roughly 100g of strawberries and 1.5 kiwis is roughly what you need. 

2. Potatoes

It's the starch in potatoes that makes the difference here, as it "helps reduce the harm of the sunburn," says Frida. So does that mean chips all holiday long? Er, not necessarily, sadly. "Sweet potato is a healthier option, and is just like carrots high in the skin-protecting beta-carotene and vitamin C," the nutirionist adds.

3. Green tea

"According to a study, drinking two cups of green or matcha tea a day could lower incidence of melanoma," notes Frida. But she does go on to add that caffeine dehydrates you, so you should limit your intake, and make sure you're swigging lots of water in between.

4. Guava

This is another fruit that's high in vitamin C, and is therefore healing for your skin. "One serving of Guava contains five times more vitamin C than an orange," says Frida. There's one for the pub quiz.

5. Oatmeal

"Oatmeal contains a free radical fighting antioxidant," explains Frida. Don't worry, I didn't know what a free radical was either until I googled it, but basically it's a molecule that causes damage to your skin from what I can gather. And she goes on to explain the plus side of antioxidants: "Briefly, as skin ages and exposure to UV radiation increases, skin cells lose their ability to regenerate". Antioxidants help with this, which is why you'll see the word on a load of anti-ageing products out there.

6. Cucumbers

Cucumber contains mostly water, which helps your skin to stay hydrated (and is also why it feels soooo good when you put it on your eyes). But that's not the only benefit, Frida notes. "The vegetable also helps to produce collagen, which is a good anti-cancer property," she says.

7. Tomatoes

These are packed full of antioxidants too, helping to protect skin from UV-radiation. But there's bonus points for the humble tomato: "Vitamin C and the lycopene (which gives it its red colour) found in tomatoes helps to keep the skin hydrated," Frida points out.

8. Watermelon

I'm pleased this one's on the list, because there's not much that's more refreshingly delicious than watermelon on a hot day. Frida explains that "this fruit works just like tomatoes. It's rich in antioxidants, which limit the UV-radiation on your body. Plus is also full of water, so eat three to four slices a day to stay hydrated during the warm summer months." Will do.

9. Dark chocolate

REJOICE, there's a treat we should be having. It's that old favourite antioxidants again here. According to Frida, dark chocolate "makes your skin smoother and protects from the sun's radiation," although she does add that chocolate containing more than 70% cacao is best (and advises not to have more than one bar per week, but you might *accidentally* miss that last bit of info).

10. Carrots

"The beta-carotene in carrots, which the body converts to vitamin A, has been linked to reduce reaction to sunburn," explains our nutritionist. So that's a good one to note if the damage is done and you've already been burned.

11. White vinegar

This is another one to take note of if you've already suffered the sunburn and are looking for a way to soothe it. "Spray the white vinegar directly on the affected skin or use a compress," says Frida, and you should notice it calming down soon.

12. Pomegranate

"This fruit is extremely rich in antioxidants, ellagic acid and has anti-inflammatory agents, which can help your skin to resists cell damaged caused by UVA and UVB rays," advises Frida, Plus, pomegranate is also supposed to be good when it comes to fighting against aging and sun-damaged skin. Two birds, one stone. Ideal.