If You Get Sunburned Easily, You Need These 13 Foods In Your Diet

Updated: Jun. 19, 2017

New research suggests some foods have the power to guard skin from the damage caused by the sun's UV radiation. While a salad is no substitute for sunblock, these healthy foods could add inner protection against sunburn and wrinkles at the cellular level.


Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have the potent ingredient limonene, associated with a whopping 34 percent lower risk of skin cancer in one University of Arizona study of 470 women and men.


Green tea

This delicately flavored tea is full of antioxidants called EGCGs. Among their health-promoting capabilities: EGCGs stopped genetic damage in human skin cells exposed to UV light in one University of Wisconsin study.



Carrots—or any other red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables—are packed with carotenoids, and studies show they reduce sunburn intensity. Bonus: Carotenoids also promote healthy eyes and help prevent macular degeneration, so you can really see (literally) their skin benefits, too.

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Strawberries work double-duty, helping with sunburn protection and sunburn treatment. Their high vitamin C levels help kill off free radicals (which have a big role in the formation of cancer) that are produced when your skin gets too much sun. Plus, they contain tannins that help reduce pain from a sunburn. Gently rubbing mashed strawberries on sunburned skin can give you quick, all-natural relief.

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These guys are loaded with antioxidants, including one especially powerful one called ellagic acid, which can protect against cell damage from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. One study found that when pomegranate extract was used with sunscreen, the combo increased SPF by 20 percent.

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The antioxidant lycopene is the reason tomatoes are red, and it’s also what makes tomatoes so good for your skin. Lycopene is especially prominent in processed tomatoes, like those in tomato juice, paste, soup, and ketchup. In fact, one study out of London showed that women saw reduced skin redness after being in the sun and had less DNA damage from UV rays when their diets were high in processed tomatoes. Lycopene is also believed to keep your skin looking young.


Red peppers

Hot peppers can make you live longer, but red bell peppers have the healing properties of tomatoes and carrots to keep your skin beautiful for your whole life. Thanks to their lycopene and beta-carotene (a carotenoid like those in carrots), they help reduce sunburn intensity and protect you from UV damage. However, green peppers aren’t an acceptable substitute, because they have significantly lower levels of beta carotene.

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Red grapes

Add grapes to your anti-sun-damage summer fruit salad. They contain a nutrient called resveratrol, a type of polyphenol that can prevent cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer, as well as many other types of cancer. They can also help prevent damage caused by UVB exposure. Just make sure to choose the red or purple ones. Green grapes have significantly less resveratrol than the other varieties.

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The omega-3 fatty acids in this superseed have a lot of super health benefits, one of which is hydrating your skin to keep it looking young and vibrant. You can rub flaxseed oil on your skin or eat raw flaxseeds, but whatever you do, don’t cook them. That will break down the nutrients and make them of no use to you. Sprinkle the seeds on yogurt or eat chips made with flaxseed.



The benefits of spinach go far beyond Popeye-like strength. Leafy greens, like dark green lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are top sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which halted cell growth prompted by UV light in animal studies.



This fish is another great source of oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In a small British study, fish oils guarded against sunburn and DNA changes that can lead to cancer.

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Sunflower seeds

Just one ounce of sun contains two-thirds of your daily recommended intake of vitamin E, and this important vitamin helps protect your body from sun damage. Vitamin E can also help make scars look less noticeable, so it clears your skin in more ways than one!



Like salmon, walnuts are high is essential fatty acids that could guard against sunburn, so anyone who doesn’t like fish can also reap the omega-3 benefits. (Did you know your diet can also fight wrinkles?)