Eat Your Sunscreen
Focus on these five foods to boost your defenses against sun damage and skin cancer.
1. COLORFUL FRUITS
Too much sun can hurt plants as much as it can hurt humans. "When you and I go out in the sun, we put on sunscreen. Plants use color as sunscreen," says Ralph Felder, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Bonus Years Diet (Perigee Trade, 2008) and an in Phoenix. "The more colorful the plant, the higher its protection against unwanted rays." Some of the most colorful plants get their hue from lycopene, a naturally occurring pigment–or type of carotenoid–found in red and pink fruits. Carotenoids help people by clustering in those places most vulnerable to sunlight: the eyes and the skin.
Raw tomatoes are high in lycopene, but cooked tomatoes are even better for you, since cooking releases lycopene from its "packaging." In a 2001 study, volunteers who ate 40 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of tomato paste, plus 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of olive oil (to aid absorption) daily for 10 weeks, were 40 percent less likely than their tomatoeschewing peers to get burned when researchers exposed a patch of their skin to ultraviolet rays.
Cooked tomatoes are in everything: and paste, soup, sauce, and ketchup–all of which contain the highest concentrations of lycopene your body can use. You can also get helpful amounts of lycopene from watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit. Other carotenoids are easy to find: Stick to brightly colored fruits and veggies such as blueberries, strawberries, and red, yellow, and orange peppers.