We all know how harsh the Aussie sun can be, so when it comes to protecting our skin from daily UV exposure, it's important we're doing as much as we can. Think that just means sun cream? These superfoods are proving their 'super' status, with their benefits including protecting our skin against the sun's harmful rays:
How's this for a dangling carrot: The rabbit food may not only help prevent sun damage, but might even reverse it. In a recent Korean study, 30 healthy women received a daily dose of 30 milligrams of beta carotene (about six carrots' worth) for three months. As a result, the antioxidants both protected and repaired cells from photoaging. Sneak carrots into your diet by making healthy, low-kJ fries. Cut peeled carrots into three-inch sticks. Place them on a baking sheet with two tablespoons of olive oil and some sea salt. Toss to coat evenly, then roast in a 200 degrees for 30 minutes (turning them at the 15-minute mark). Sweet potato (kumara)
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are also a major source of skin-protecting beta-carotene. Pick up a large one at your grocery store or farmer's market and slice it into chip-like disks (don't make them too thin or they'll burn quickly). Brush the slices with olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano or fresh coriander. Grill until golden brown (about a minute-and-a-half per side). Voila - you've got another perfect summer snack!
You know a colorful plate is a healthy one. When you shop for your reds (tomatoes, radishes), greens (romaine lettuce, kale, parsley), purples (cabbage), yellow (peppers), and oranges (squash), make sure their hue is on the darker side. "The general rule of thumb is the deeper the color of the vegetable, the more nutritious it is and the more valuable the antioxidants, which help reverse free-radical damage in the body," says Harold Lancer, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist whose clientele includes Hollywood beauties Beyonce, Victoria Beckham, and Kim Kardashian.
BONUS: Enjoy these raw veggies with this easy-to-make, low-cal salad dressing: freshly squeezed lemon or lime with grape-seed oil. This oil is high in resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been shown to benefit the skin. Skip the salt, which just makes you puffy, and instead add mustard for an extra kick.
Strawberries, kiwi fruit and oranges
High in vitamin C, these three fruits are fully equipped to help block the development of cancer cells.
"Vitamin C is great for helping kill off free radicals that your body produces in response to the cellular damaged caused by exposure to sunlight," says Tara Gidus, R.D., team dietitian for the Orlando Magic.
Cool fact: kiwi is the king of fruits. Gram for gram, it packs more vitamin C than any other fruit.
Almonds and sunflower seeds
"Top off a salad, yogurt, or smoothie with slivered almonds or sunflower seeds--both contain vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that protects against sun damage. This vitamin has also proven to slow the aging of skin cells and help diminish the appearance of scars," says Sharon Richter, R.D., a medical advisor for HealthiNation.
An apple a day can help keep skin cancer away - but only if you eat the scarlet peel! According to a 2007 study at Cornell University, the skin of Red Delicious apples is home to a dozen important chemical compounds called triterpenoids that have been proven to block or kill cancer cells in lab tests.
Check it, chocoholics: the delicious dark stuff - made of 65 percent or more raw cocoa - contains amazing antioxidants called flavonoids, which help protect the body from sun damage, says Sergio Rojas, a nutritionist and fitness trainer who runs reDefined Fitness in Chicago.
Do your waist a favor and have just a small amount (seven ounces per week) paired with a glass of red wine or iced green tea, which also contain flavonoids.
If you're feeling cocoa creative, make one of WH's delicious chocolate recipes, which break the sweet stuff out of the "just-dessert" category once and for all.
A glass of refreshing green tea won't just calm you down; it will also help keep you cancer-free. "Green tea contains EGCG, a natural chemical that fights free radicals, decreases inflammation from the inside out, and may ultimately prevent the development of skin cancer," Benlifer says.
Make sure it's decaf. "Caffeine is a dehydrating agent. When your body is thirsty, it tells the brain to suck fluid out of the skin," Lancer says.
During the outdoor-grilling season, here's another good reason to swap your usual burgers and hot dogs for healthy fish: "Snapper is high in omega-3 fatty acids and the mineral selenium, which has the ability to reduce the risk of sunburn and promote even skin tone," Richter says.
Eating red can help keep you from turning red. Lycopene--the same good stuff found in tomatoes - can decrease your chance of looking like a lobster, says Brooke Joanna Benlifer, R.D., who specializes in nutrition for cancer prevention. Enjoy a super-light, sun-shielding summer salad with just four simple ingredients: cubed seedless watermelon, crumbled or diced feta, whole mint leaves, and extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.