8 Foods and Drinks That May Help Prevent Sunburns

It’s hard not to like a sunny day, but we all know that too much time in the sunburns can be dangerous. A broad-spectrum SPF on your skin is your first and most important line of defense against sun damage. However, Rajani Katta, MD, a dermatologist and author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet, says that certain foods can help build up your body’s natural protection. If you eat a variety of these nutrient-dense foods on a regular basis, you can feel more secure.

1. Tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Since 2012, science has shown that tomatoes can help protect you from the sun. A study published in October 2012 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that foods high in lycopene, a pigment found in plants that has antioxidant properties, can make sunburns less painful and make skin more moist and flexible.

Even though the people in the study ate about 2.5 tablespoons of tomato paste every day for 10 weeks, which isn’t something most people do, experts think you could get similar results by eating a lot of lycopene-rich foods every day. “In real life,” says Dr. Katta, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat only one thing.” “Don’t think about eating tomato paste every day. Instead, think about how you can add antioxidant-rich foods to every meal and snack.”

One way to get the most sun protection from this food is to eat a variety of lycopene-rich foods, such as whole tomatoes, tomato juice, and tomato sauce.

Research from the past has also shown that eating tomatoes cooked in olive oil may help the body absorb more lycopene.


Katta also eats watermelon all summer long, which is a good source of lycopene. A study published in Experimental and Clinical Sciences Journal found that an equal amount of watermelon has about 40% more lycopene than an equal amount of tomatoes. And watermelon is more hydrating than most other fruits, so it’s a great way to keep your skin healthy in two ways. Be aware, though, that the dark red parts of the watermelon have a lot more lycopene than the yellow or green parts.

3. Grapes

Some early research suggests that grapes may protect against sun damage. The dermatology department at the University of Alabama in Birmingham had 19 healthy adults eat a freeze-dried grape powder for 14 days. They looked at how sensitive the people in the study were to UV light before and after 14 days. They found that after two weeks of eating the powder, the amount of light needed to make the skin red was almost 75 percent higher. In other words, the grape powder seemed to make skin less sensitive to the damage UV light can do. Biopsies of the skin also showed that there was less damage to the DNA and less dead skin.

Even though the study, which was published in January 2021 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, was small and more research is needed, eating more grapes won’t hurt you. The powder used in the study was the same as eating about 2 14 cups of grapes every day.

In mice studies that were published in August 2017 in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, natural compounds in grapes called polyphenols seemed to lessen the effects of UV radiation. When researchers tried it on people, they got the same results.

Craig A. Elmets, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and the 2021 study’s lead author, says that polyphenols have an antioxidant effect. “Polyphenols keep inflammation from getting worse and skin cells from dying by stopping oxidative stress.”

Dr. Elmets says that the effect on humans was not as big as that of putting sunscreen on the skin. “The effect is probably about the same as an SPF 2.” That is, don’t stop using sunscreen.”

4. Herbs

Katta says, “It’s very important to get small amounts of antioxidants in your diet on a regular basis to help replenish the levels in your epidermis.” This outer layer of skin is a waterproof barrier that protects your hair follicles, sweat glands, and connective tissue. It is also the most damaged by UV and free radical damage.

Research published in March 2016 in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity says that herbs like oregano have a lot of antioxidants and may protect against free radicals. Fresh and dried herbs had more antioxidants than herb pastes, so it’s best to stick with whole herbs instead of processed ones. Make pizza sauce with oregano or shake up your own salad dressing to get your daily dose of antioxidants.

Also Read ABout A Complete Guide to Prebiotics and What They Do

5. Green Tea

Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is a type of nutrient that can be found in green tea and may protect against sun damage. In a study published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, researchers gave green tea to mice for 31 weeks while exposing them to UV rays. The mice who drank the tea had much less skin cancer than mice who got the same amount of UV exposure but didn’t drink tea. The study’s authors said that people would have to drink between five and six 8-ounce cups of green tea every day to get the same results as the mice.

A review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that men and women who drank about five 8-ounce cups of green tea every day got skin cancers later than those who drank less or no tea.

Katta, who did not take part in either study, says that plant-based compounds found in green tea may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. She says that the anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols in green tea and their ability to help DNA repair protect the body.

6. Coffee

Add this to the long list of healthy things about coffee: A study that came out in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in January 2015 found a link between drinking a lot of coffee and having a lower risk of malignant melanoma. Over the course of 10 years, researchers looked at how much coffee volunteers drank and took into account other factors, such as UV radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol use, and smoking history. They found that people who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee every day were 20% less likely to get skin cancer.

This was just an early study, though, and the Mayo Clinic says that you shouldn’t drink more than 4 cups of coffee or tea a day. You’ll also want to make sure that these cups don’t have a lot of sugar or other sweeteners in them, since sugar can make your skin less healthy.

7. Cocoa

Why you should eat more chocolate? Put us down! In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers gave 24 women a very concentrated cocoa-based drink for 12 weeks and found that their skin was much less damaged by UV rays than the skin of women who didn’t get the drink. The study found that cocoa flavanols, which are made from plants and have health benefits, protect against the sun just as well as beta carotene supplements or lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes. Test subjects who drank the same amount of a low-flavanol cocoa drink, on the other hand, did not get any sun protection. People who drank the high cocoa beverage had more blood flow and kept more moisture in their skin.

8. Berries

An article in Science Daily says that in 2009, researchers at Hallym University in the Republic of Korea found that putting ellagic acid on the skin made the skin less inflamed when exposed to UV rays. Raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries all have a lot of ellagic acid. Over the course of eight weeks, the acid slowed the release of enzymes that break down collagen in the skin cells of mice and people. It’s not clear if the same things happen when you eat berries, so more research needs to be done.

Also Read ABout A Complete Guide to Prebiotics and What They Do