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7 Foods That Protect Your Skin from the Sun's Harmful Rays (You'll Love #5)

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Marilyn Barbone / Shutterstock

Now that summer has arrived, sun protection is a must. Most of us are used to reaching for sunscreens, wide-brimmed hats and protective sun gear. While chronic UV exposure is the most predictive factor for skin diseases, we know that inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage all play an important role in determining how extensive the damage from the sun can be.

Marilyn Barbone / Shutterstock

Antioxidant-rich foods help protect your skin against the sun's harmful rays.

Fortunately, these foods can help you guard against these risk factors and protect your skin against the sun's harmful rays.

1. Olive Oil

High in vitamin E and polyphenols, daily ingestion of unheated olive oil can protect your skin. Vitamin E has been shown in numerous studies to protect against oxidative stress and reduce photo damage from UVB radiation. A number of studies have come out recently pointing to the sun-protective benefits of topical olive oil use, as well. Add one tablespoon of a cold-pressed olive oil to your salads or sprinkle it on your already cooked or roasted veggies. This popular oil should be a part of your daily summer diet and summer skin care.

2. Walnuts

Well-known now for containing omega-3 fats, walnuts have also been found to protect your skin. Walnuts help the cells in your outer layer of skin fight UV radiation by preventing cell breakdown, or apoptosis. Grab a handful of walnuts for a skin-protecting snack on the go, or grind walnuts in your food processor or blender to add to summertime dips and sauces.

3. Apples

Apples have the highest concentration of polyphenols of any fruit, which means they are a powerhouse when it comes to summer skin care. Polyphenols are plant-based compounds that help regulate inflammation, oxidative stress and the immune system. An apple a day this summer can protect your skin and your immune system.

4. Tea and Coffee

Another source of polyphenols, tea and coffee also act as antioxidants that can boost skin health. A recent study found that daily coffee consumption protected a group of Japanese patients from photo-aging and hyper-pigmented sunspots, due to the drinks' high polyphenol content—another reason to keep drinking your daily cup of coffee, even in the summer heat.

5. Red Wine

While many of us avoid wine because we are limiting calories or sugar, red wine does have high polyphenol content. No excuses needed here. Consider having two to three glasses of red wine a week for an additional alternative source of antioxidants.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli, like apples, is a polyphenol champ. It's the vegetable with the highest count of polyphenols. As a cruciferous vegetable, broccoli also fights inflammation, with recent studies showing broccoli sprouts to be helpful in protecting against cancer. A compound in broccoli, sulphorane, has been shown to activate our skin's defense system when we are exposed to UV light.

7. Basil

This kitchen favorite may be the most protective herb when it comes to sun protection. Basil contains an antioxidant zeaxanthin that helps filter UV light from the retina, protecting your eyes.

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