5 Best Foods for Your Sunburn: Science-Backed Ways to Heal a Sunburn with Food
WRITTEN BY OUR OFFICIAL SCIENCE STEEPER: ALLISON TANNIS, MSC RHN.
Sunburns happen sometimes when you’re having fun in the sun. Luckily, there are foods that offer nutrients that help naturally heal your sunburn quickly. As for that sunburnt skin, here’s what science says are the best foods to eat to soothe your skin.
Are Sunburns Serious?
Sunlight is the primary cause of damage to your skin. It’s important to realize the sun produces powerful radiation – it can damage skin cells beyond the protection food can offer. Plus, those at the greatest risk may not even realize it. Despite the colder climate of the northern hemisphere, the thinner ozone layer means your skin is exposed to more harmful sunlight and is more likely to burn. Getting a sunburn increases your chances of developing skin cancer and premature wrinkles.
How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Cover up or apply sunblock when out in the sun. Nourish your skin daily with superfoods known to support skin health. And, if a sunburn happens, know what you can eat to heal the burn quickly. Here’s what science says are the best foods for a sunburn.
Should You Eat Your Sunscreen?
No. You can’t eat sunscreen, but you can eat foods that offer your skin the tools it needs to keep itself as healthy as possible when exposed to sunlight.
Can Diet Prevent a Sunburn?
Many fruits, vegetables, seeds, and leaves are known to contain nutrients that help your skin protect itself from sunlight damage and repair after a sunburn.
5 Best Foods for Your Sunburn
From EGCG to zinc, there are many nutrients found in these nutritious foods to help heal a sunburn.
Cantaloupe may protect your skin from the sun. It contains beta-carotene, a nutrient that can absorb UV light and prevent damage, according to science. The richest food sources of beta-carotene are orange, yellow, and green leafy plants, with higher concentrations found in more intense coloured fruits, vegetables, and leaves.
Foods for Sunburns: Beta-carotene-rich Plants
- Sweet potato
- Tea leaves
Kiwi may be a good food for your sunburn as it’s an excellent source of vitamin C. An antioxidant, vitamin C can neutralize and remove oxidants that form after exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Vitamin C appears to be even better at reducing the damage found in sunburned skin when vitamin E is present.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
A source of vitamin E, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) can help your skin heal from sunburn. Vitamin E protects fats in the skin. Zinc found in pumpkin seeds is a key nutrient in wound healing. In order to heal a sunburn, the skin needs to create new cells to replace the damaged layers of skin, a process that increases the demand for zinc. A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains about 17% of the recommended daily value of zinc.
4. Aloe Vera
Although it is consumed as a natural medicine as a source of vitamin C and a variety of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant compounds) that act as antioxidants in the body, aloe vera’s soothing effects when applied topically to the skin make it one of the best foods for a sunburn. Studies show that aloe vera gel applied to a sunburn helps reduce inflammation in the skin.
5. Tea Leaves
Catechins, found in the highest concentrations in fresh or frozen tea leaves, are one of the best foods to eat for a sunburn. With both photo-protective and anti-inflammatory abilities, catechins, such as the famous EGCG, are helpful to the skin. A study of over 100 people, found that regularly ingesting green tea leaf catechins lessens the damaging impact of sunlight.
Delicious added into smoothies or brewed then poured over ice on a hot day, tea leaves are a nutritious, skin-supporting food worth including in your daily routine. Even higher amounts of tea catechins are now available – Millennia Tea’s Superfood Tea Cubes are created by flash-freezing, organic, fair-trade, hand-picked, fresh tea leaves.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids in protection form sunlight. Am J Clin Nutr 2012 Nov; 96(5):1179S-84S.
Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles. 2009, Fairwinds Press. Allison Tannis.
The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients 2017 Aug; 9(8): 866.
Zinc and skin health: overview of physiology and pharmacology. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31(7 Pt 2):837-847.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of Aloe saponaria Haw in a model of UVB-induced paw sunburn in rats. J Photochem Photobiol B 2014 Apr 5;133:47-54
Aloe Genus Plants: From Farm to Food Applications and Phytopharmacotherapy. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Sep; 19(9): 2843.
Green Tea Catechin Association with Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Erythema: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Molecules 2021 Jun; 26(12): 3702.