There’s a bounty of summer foods to look forward to — from luscious berries and juicy melon — to sun-ripened tomatoes and sweet corn. There’s an abundance of delicious treasures at roadside stands, farmers markets and your local grocery store. And the amazing thing is that many of these plant foods provide more than inspiration for your next Instagram post — they offer some serious functional nutrition.
4 foods that boost natural sun protection
Slathering on the SPF before you head outside is an essential part of your daily summer routine. And adding these foods with natural sun protection is smart for maximizing your skin safety.
You love a cold wedge of melon after a day of sun and fun, and this brightly hued fruit loves you right back. Watermelon gets its intense pink color from lycopene, an antioxidant that helps absorb both UVA, the type that leads to skin cancer, and UVB radiation, which is associated with sunburns. For the best natural protection, eat watermelon on a daily basis. With so many ways to enjoy it, it’s not too tough, right?
2. Iced tea and coffee:
That icy glass of green or black tea is just the thing you need to perk you up on those blistering days. And the ECGC, a potent flavanol found in all types of tea, helps to reduce damage from UVA light and also helps slow the loss of collagen, the protein that gives skin a full and youthful appearance. While human studies need to be done to support the positive studies in animals, sipping an extra glass of unsweetened tea each day may boost your defense from the sun.
Similarly, drinking 4 cups of coffee daily has been associated with a reduced risk of developing malignant melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. Just another reason to start the day with your favorite cold brew.
Your crunchy, protein-packed afternoon snack may be doing more for you than you think. Almonds have recently been shown to help support the skin’s defenses against UVB light—the type that causes sunburn. A University of California, Los Angeles study focused on Asian women ages 19 to 45. One group was given 1.55 ounces of almonds daily (246 calories worth) for 12 weeks, while the other group was fed 1.8 ounces of pretzels (200 calories worth). After 12 weeks, the group consuming almonds were able to increase their time in the sun before reddening, the first sign that skin is becoming photodamaged. Sounds like another great reason to top your morning toast with almond butter.
Sweet and refreshing, grapes are linked to an array of health benefits. Grapes of all colors – green, red, and black – are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. Research suggests that grapes may help promote healthy skin even when exposed to UV light. In a recent study participants consuming freeze-dried whole grape powder, equivalent to 2 1/4 cups of grapes, every day for two weeks showed increased resistance to sunburn and a reduction in markers of UV damage at the cellular level. Just another reason to add grapes to your shopping cart!
4 foods that hydrate
Adequate hydration is essential to staying healthy in the summer. When you’re dehydrated, your heart needs to work overtime to cool your body down. You know you need to drink more water in the heat, but you’re struggling to get one more glass in. That’s fine, because you can drink your water too! The foods below have nearly as much water as a glass of well, water. Adding more servings of these foods to your day will help you stay hydrated. And being hydrated not only helps you feel good, it also does wonders for your skin.
2. Iceberg lettuce:
Once frowned upon because it’s not loaded with fiber or vitamins, like kale, iceberg packs a hydrating punch at 96% water. We love it served up as a wedge and drizzled with a creamy dressing, or use it for crunchy and low-carb wraps. Either way, we’d love to see iceberg come back as a beauty food!
Though it may not appear to be that watery when you slice it open, zukes are a refreshing 95% water. That’s why they work so well in baked recipes, adding moisture to muffins and bread. But don’t forget that they make fantastic savory recipes too.
One of the most anticipated summer foods by far is the tomato. And at 94% water, it should definitely be part of your delicious hydration plan. We love them in sandwiches of course, and also in gazpacho and this amazing BLT Tart.
4 foods that beat the summer bloat
Whether you overdid it on salty food during your vacation, or had an extra margarita (with a salted rim, of course) over the weekend, you may be feeling bloated. Bloat can be caused by your body retaining water from consuming too much sodium. It can also be due to constipation, which often happens when we’re dehydrated or while traveling. Either way, these bloat busting foods can help you feel better — and slimmer — in hours.
This mustardy-flavored green fights puffiness with its diuretic powers. As part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, it also boasts cancer-fighting benefits and it’s super low in calories at just 4 per cup. Pair it with juicy watermelon and peaches in this delicious summer salad.
While technically a spring veggie, you can still find plenty of these stalks at the store. A well-known bloat fighter, these fiber-rich stalks have even been touted as a way to prevent a hangover. Asparagus is delicious as a side dish and also pairs well with eggs, like in these Mini Asparagus and Cheddar Frittatas.
This crudité staple caused a stir a couple of years ago when everyone started juicing it for a detox drink. While you can overdo it on the juiced version (it can lead to diarrhea), eating this natural diuretic, or adding it to a smoothie, is smart for fighting bloat.
Tropical and sweet, pineapple in a juicy addition to lots of summer recipes. And it also aids in helping your body get rid of excess fluid. Keep dinner light and flavorful with Grilled Garlic-Lemon Shrimp with Pineapple.
Load up that basket or shopping cart and fuel up for your healthiest — and most delicious — summer ever!