Benefits of Lycopene in Your Diet: Lycopene Could Be Your Secret Weapon to Combating Sun Damage by Dr. Vikki Petersen
Most of us know the importance of applying sunscreen before going out for a day in the sun. However, there must be more natural ways of boosting our body’s natural defenses against UV rays, right? Lycopene may be your secret weapon to combatting sun damage.
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in red fruits, can protect your skin against UV radiation as it absorbs both UVA and UVB rays. Enjoying lycopene-rich foods can reduce sunburn and UV radiation skin aging. The timing of consuming such foods aligns with the sun. In other words, enjoy them during the daytime to get the most benefit.
For your next outdoor adventure, here are some foods to help fight against sun damage:
- Watermelon: What is more delightful on a hot summer day than enjoying juicy watermelon? Its UV protection takes a few weeks to build up, but enjoying this delicious fruit actually provides more lycopene than fresh tomatoes and can act as a natural sunscreen. Note: do not eschew topical sunscreen, but this internal protection is a nice benefit.
- Tomatoes: Half of the richest foods in lycopene are variations of tomato products. The winner is sundried tomatoes, followed by tomato puree, fresh tomatoes and canned. Sundried tomatoes contain more than 10 times the amount of lycopene as fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are especially sweet in the summer and can be enjoyed on salads or as a side dish with most meals.
- Guava: Guava beats watermelon for its lycopene content, placing third to sundried tomatoes and tomato puree. It is interesting that this traditional tropical fruit, along with papaya, the next one on the list, are common in warm climates where their sun protecting capabilities are so needed. Enjoy it as part of a fruit smoothie, summer salad or healthy dessert.
- Papaya: Papaya, another tropical fruit, is a great addition to any summer fruit salad or a sweet addition to any meal, including a morning smoothie.
- Pink Grapefruit: Citrus fruits are particularly healthy, but the “pink” is a trademark for lycopene and is a delicious way to start your day and boost your sun protection internally.
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