Beauty Foods for Radiant Skin | NBC New York
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Beauty Foods for Radiant Skin

Updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri, Apr 8, 2011

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Foods for--yes--sun protection!
With beach season quickly approaching it’s time to review the required skincare regimen to avoid red, blotchy, sunburned skin. We all know this leads to not only wrinkly, old-looking skin but also…skin cancer! In addition to daily application of sunscreen, some foods--yes magical old food--can help protect skin against the nasty free-radical damage and carcinogenic effects of the sun’s oh-so-trong UV rays. The good news is your diet may already be protecting you! Let’s review some foods that will help protect your skin from the inside out while you let your sunscreen work its way from the outside in.

Phytochemicals such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and alkaloids help protect against UV radiation-inflicted damage due to their ability to act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Antioxidants help counter free radicals in your body, lessening the deterioration of skin’s vital components, including collagen and elastin. They protect against sun damage including wrinkling and skin discoloration from UV exposure by fighting these free radicals that arise from sun and pollution. Lets remember that both UVA and UVB are major culprits in skin cancer development; UVB is responsible for those painful sunburns and UVA contributes to skin wrinkling. Antioxidants typically found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits, can contribute to lifelong UV protection if eaten consistently, not to mention, their beneficial effects on cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the aging process overall. Just one more reason to eat your fruits and veggies consistently!

Flavanols, a group of flavonoids, such as those found in dark chocolate, have been shown to improve the skin’s appearance by decreasing sensitivity to light. Flavanols also increase blood flow to the skin, improving skin structure and texture. 

Where to find ‘em?

Dark chocolate, cocoa, black beans, blueberries, cranberries, bananas, citrus fruits, broccoli, artichokes, walnuts, pistachios, cashew, dill, thyme.

Carotenoids, pigments found in orange and dark green foods, are helpful in protecting the skin from sun damage by decreasing sensitivity to UV light. Lycopene and beta-carotene have been shown to reduce photosensitivity, contributing to a reduction in skin redness and overall damage caused by sunlight exposure.

Where to find ‘em?

Carrots, spinach, kale, apricots, butternut squash, sweet potato, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, pink grapefruit, salmon, milk, egg yolks, cayenne pepper

Alkaloids such as caffeine have been shown to eliminate UV-damaged skin cells and reduce skin roughness when applied topically after exposure to UV light. Studies show that the caffeine in your daily coffee or tea contributes to damaged cell death and helps prevents the formation of skin cancer. Green tea also contains polyphenols, antioxidants shown to inhibit cancer cell growth due to UV light damage.

Where to find ‘em?
Caffeinated coffee, green tea, dark chocolate, cocoa

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids contain protective monounsaturated fats, which defend against damaging free radicals. Studies have shown that consuming monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fat reduces the incidence of skin cancer. This “good” fat reduces inflammation and gives cells stronger back up against oxidative damage. 

Where to find ‘em?
Walnuts, flax seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, soybeans/tofu, navy/kidney beans, winter squash, coconut oil

A compound found in cruciferous vegetables, sulforaphane, contains anticancer properties which protect skin from sun damage due to increasing production of protective enzymes, which help the body fight skin damage from sun exposure.

Where to find ‘em?
Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress


Vitamins C and E
Some well known vitamins act as team players in the fight to protect your skin. Vitamins C and E work together to provide maximum protection against sun damage. Both have antioxidant power which prevents and repairs cell damage from sun exposure. Having a combined dose provides the most protection, so try almond slivers with your broccoli or sprinkle sunflower seeds on your salad.

Where to find ‘em?
Vitamin C Foods: Tomato, red and green peppers, melons, broccoli, citrus fruits
Vitamin E Foods: Avocado, almonds, sunflower seeds

Promotional consideration provided by Smart Balance. This article is sponsored content and does not reflect the opinions of NBC Local News.

First Published: Apr 7, 2011 3:34 PM EDT

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