By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef and NYT-bestselling author of Superfood Snacks
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been enjoying these last several weeks of long, warm days outside. Summertime weekends are composed of outdoor plans, the closest body of water is visited on a regular basis, and the season’s wardrobe is in full-on minimalist mode. And while all this fun in the sun is so awesome for the soul, the sad truth is our skin isn’t exactly pleased. Sure a kiss of sunshine — with its vitamin D benefits — is healthy, but extended exposure can be at best an expedited ticket to topical aging, and at worst tragically deadly. So, what’s a sun-worshipper to do?
Quality natural sunscreens are of course an excellent way to help shield the skin from harmful rays. But it’s not all about what we put on the outside – there’s also strong merit to what we put on the inside. It’s true: certain micronutrients can actually help to both repair previous damage to the skin, as well as protect against further deterioration. Here are some of the best micronutrient-packed superfoods to consume that can assist in skin salvation:
Camu Berries: Vitamin C is a very skin-supportive nutrient all around. In addition to helping reduce inflammation, vitamin C’s antioxidant capabilities help flight cell-damaging free radicals, and studies have show the nutrient can even prevent and reduce wrinkles. Camu berries are the highest source of vitamin C of any known food, making them an efficient way to build up this nutrient in the system. Mostly found in powdered form, simply start adding a pinch or two of camu to your smoothies for damage-protection.
Goji Berries: The scientific community has linked beta-carotene, an orange-pigmented antioxidant, to help build protection against sunburn when consumed regularly for several weeks. Goji berries are an excellent source of beta-carotene (they contain more than even carrots!), and are also a great source of vitamin C as well! It’s easy to keep some dried goji’s on hand as a part of your outdoor snacks kit, or toss a few into your favorite breakfast bowl. You can also incorporate more carotene-rich foods, like carrots and orange squash, into your daily diet for extra protection.
Spirulina & Chlorella: They may be deep green, but these powerful algae are also a great source of beta-carotene too! Plus, they contain an exceptionally powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is 550 times more effective than vitamin E, and has been shown to protect the skin against UV radiation. You can add these potent powders to smoothies, or you can also buy pure astaxanthin in supplement form.
Green & Black Tea: Tea leaves (including matcha) are exceptional sources of polyphenols, which actively fight free radical exposure, and have even been shown to reduce the risk of some skin cancers by 30%! Enjoy an iced green tea before venturing outside, or work a little matcha powder into your next batch of homemade popsicles.
Cacao: As if this wasn’t the best new ever: studies show that eating dark chocolate (chocolate with a high cacao content) may act as a mild sunscreen! The high flavonoid content in cacao can both help fight skin cancer, as well as decrease the effects of UV light. For the maximum amount of flavonoids, consume real cacao powder or cacao nibs (as opposed to a chocolate bar), which can be infused into absolutely anything that could use a little chocolate love … which basically means everything, right?!