Eat Foods That Protect You From The Sun!

Turns out, certain foods can act as natural sunscreens and help you build a resistance to sunburn and skin damage. See the list!

We all know that our bodies need some sun exposure to manufacture vitamin D, which is important to our overall well being. The Vitamin D Council advises that a minimum of 40% of the body should receive direct sun exposure for optimal vitamin D production, adding, “30 minutes of direct sunlight produces up to 50,000 IU of vitamin D.” But with sun exposure comes the worry of sunburn and skin damage.

So how can you get the sun exposure you need for health without exposing yourself to the dangers of harmful UVA and UVB rays? Food to the rescue! Turns out, there are certain foods that act as natural sunscreens that can boost your tolerance to the sun and help you build a resistance to sunburn and sun damage.

Natural Sun-Protecting Foods

Red Produce

Eating a whole foods diet promotes skin health from the inside-out. Studies show that consuming foods rich in the powerful antioxidant lycopene help reduce susceptibility to sunburns. Research indicates that the lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and red bell peppers, provides an extra level of protection against sun damage. When we eat tomato paste and similar tomato products, we are consuming the nutrients which naturally protect growing plants from sun damage. Thus, we benefit from its antioxidants in a similar manner. 

Yellow And Orange Produce

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, diets high in beta carotene-rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, yellow peppers, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, may reduce the risk of some cancers. Beta carotene also boosts the immune system’s ability to fight disease.


Flax - Flax seed

Consume Omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ground flax seeds, krill or fish oil to lubricate your cells, and nourish and rejuvenate the skin from the inside, out.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Foods rich in lutein include green leafy vegetables like spinach and help protect your skin. 

Natural Oils

Coconut oil is a good carrier oil when making your own sunscreen.

Several natural oils offer light sunscreen protection from ultraviolet radiation. Red raspberry seed oil and carrot seed oil both offer the highest SPF (sun protection factor) ranging from 38-40. Red Raspberry seed oil protects against UVA and UVB rays. Drops of red raspberry seed oil or carrot seed oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically to the skin as a light sunscreen. Coconut oil and olive oil are good carrier oils that naturally provide about an SPF 4.

Do Commercial Sunscreens Work?

Commercial sunscreens provide contain many ingredients that may not be safe, including sprays that could be harmful to the lungs. There are natural, mineral-based sunscreens on the market, but you may not find them at your corner drugstore. The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual guide to sunscreens which includes a list of toxic ingredients and sunscreens to avoid, as well as a list of the best sunscreen products on the market.

Building a tolerance to sun exposure through a whole foods diet and using plant-based sunscreens is achieved gradually over time. While you may notice that you don’t burn as quickly as you once did, you should continue to limit sun exposure to avoid sunburn which can lead to premature aging.

Head - Ear pain
Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Natalie: I disagree totally. These days doctors are so buy and buried with paperwork and bureaucracy, that they simple follow whatever recommendations are given by the AMA. As a medical researcher, I am constantly correcting my doctor. Most recently about the high blood calcium in my blood work, which she didn’t feel was a problem. But I knew at my age that the level of Ca in my blood was far too high, meaning it wasn’t getting into my bones. I forced her to prescribe a blood test for Mg, PTH, and Vit-D. Lo and behold, my Vit-D was low. She was so ashamed of her misunderstanding of the blood work, that she had an office worker call to apologize. If I blindly listened to her advice, my bones would have become brittle and my parathyroid would likely have burned out.

A recent Israeli study found that more people get skin cancer from sunscreen use than they would have from the sun. In fact, there is NO scientific evidence linking sun exposure to skin cancer. Furthermore, most melanomas tend to form where the sun doesn’t shine (between legs, near genitals, in arm pits, etc.). Man has toiled in the sun for millennia with very low incidences of skin cancer, now all of a sudden a sun screen is needed? Really? Then there is the study showing that people who tend to stay in doors and out of the sun die from epidemically high rate of colon cancer (most likely because they are not in the sun and forming Vitamin-D, which is really not a vitamin, but a steroid that fights cancer). So even if the sun was the cause of skin cancer, and assuming sun screens were safe; using them would likely result in you dying of colon cancer instead.

I’m not totally against sun screens. The operative word here is moderation. I’ll still use sun screen when on the beach. But people who use it every day in their face creams, etc., often get melanomas in spite of it, and they still blame the sun and curse their ‘bad luck,’ because they were foolish enough to listen to their doctors without doing the research and learning the facts for themselves.

The next time you are consulting with your doctor, remember this one last thing. Of the two people in that room, only one of you will be dedicated 24×7 to assure you stay healthy and it ain’t going to be your doc – who on average dedicates less than 5 minutes reviewing your situation above and beyond the time he/she spends with you for your annual physical of sick visit.

Shannon Hinds

I dont see anywhere thT says not to use sunscreen. It just says to try to use natural sunscreens to not put extra chemicals in your skin. Tomatoes, carrpts, and green.leafys are goid for us anyways. If it helps protect our skin., why not try it?
I do use sunscrean. I am very fair skinned and have a history of melenoma in my family. My father was stage 4. He was going to die of cancer. What we found out, was although the sun exposure can kill you, it can also heal at the same time. My father, now 6 years cancer freet It is simply about balance an using your head. I use sunscrean, but the spf and amount of times i reapply is dependant on what I do l.


Detractors didn’t read the whole article. The lupus folks could use a natural plant or mineral based product, or make their own. And I wouldnt give a flip what the AMA says about anything. They are there to increase profits for medical organizations and promote ongoing treatment instead of curing disease.


If you must wear sunblock, there are safe options. This site is a great resource for information & they have an app, to make it easier to make better choices!


Please cite your source for SPF of oils.


You can use earthen mud for the sunscreen not a chemical if your really worried bout uvb…watch survivor….. You ever read how much crap is in everyday sunscreen…wow


There are certain medical conditions,such as LUPUS, where the suns rays are extremely detreminal to those who have LUPUS. It is very dangerous not to use sunscreen & should not be suggested to eat tomatoes in place of sunscreen. There are also medications, that increase your chances of getting a sunburn. Always check with your Dr. Before foregoing Sunscreen!


‘@Natalie Kelly,,,,,,,,,,I’m 71 and I have never used sun screen,ever.

Natalie Kelly

Any article that tells you not apply sun screen is ludicrous and any doctor that gives that advice should be barred from the AM A. This article is extremely disappointing.


It Seems That certain foods that contain TBHQ, TITANIUM DIOXIDE Is a product used in sunscreen lotions , So In Effect When People Eat foods that contain these ingredients They Are Ingesting sun screen.


I will atest to this fact. I changed my diet to a whole foods diet 15 months ago and I am noticing this year that I do not sunburn like before!

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