Those years of fun in the sun and other shenanigans were totally worth it, but they left behind wrinkles, sunspots, and thinning skin. According to recent research, eating specific foods can help you look younger and help block UV rays. Bloody Marys may or may not be involved.
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Fight Frown Lines with Collagen
Loss of collagen, the main structural protein in skin that sends moisture into those frown lines, is a big contributor to saggy skin. Vitamin C helps keep collagen strong and doubles as an antioxidant to clean up damage. In one study, researchers reviewed people’s food journals and found that those with higher vitamin C intake had fewer wrinkles and less dryness (independent of age), sun exposure, and body weight.
“Vitamin C is essential for building healthy, strong collagen, which contributes to fewer wrinkles and thicker hair,” says Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face.
Where to Get Vitamin C
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a good way to increase vitamin C intake, and it's best to eat them fresh and raw, since processing and cooking destroys this nutrient. Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, bell peppers, and tomato juice contain the highest levels of vitamin C, providing 100 percent or more of the recommended daily value. Eat berries instead of a donut or cookie since they’re much lower in sugar — an added coup since too much sugar can make collagen dry, brittle, and weak.
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Eat Red So You Don't Get Red
While you work on your sunscreen routine, focus on adding a few key foods to your diet to reduce the look of brown spots and deep wrinkles.
“Studies show that eating cooked tomatoes can help fight sunburn and sun damage due to lycopene and other antioxidants found in tomatoes," Wu says. "So add extra tomato paste to your pizza and order a Bloody Mary instead of a beer.”
Journal of Nutrition published a study that found that 2.5 tablespoons of tomato paste eaten daily for 10 weeks resulted in 40 percent less redness from the sun. Other forms of canned tomatoes contain just as much lycopene per serving, like half a cup of tomato puree, tomato soup, marinara sauce, and tomato sauce (also sun-dried tomatoes).
Orange, Yellow, Purple, and Dark Green are Good, Too
Beta-carotene in brightly colored produce, polyphenols in green tea, and flavanols in cocoa also show promise. Remember that staying in the shade, covering up, and applying sunscreen before going outside is still your best defense.
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