May is national skin-care awareness month, so before you bust out the bikini, take a good look at your birthday suit. If you have moles that are an odd shape or color, or larger than a pencil eraser, see a doctor to rule out melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
We all know to wear sunscreen, but SPF 30 isn't the only way to protect your skin this summer. There's UV-fighting artillery stationed in your fridge and fruit bowl, too.
Watermelon Grab some watermelon—the beta-carotene and lycopene increases your protection against harmful UV rays from the inside out. Both vitamins settle into skin's outer layer, where their antioxidant action helps repair cells damaged by sunlight. In one French study, the dueling duo helped improve markers of skin defense against UV rays by as much as 20 percent. V8 juice is a source of both nutrients--just make yours is the low-sodium version to reduce belly bloat.
Orange peels The outer peel contains d-limonene, the mortal enemy of UV rays everywhere. A University of Arizona study found that eating one teaspoon of orange peel per week reduced skin cancer risk by 30 percent. Don't want to eat an orange peel? Grate one into your salad or salsa.
Broccoli Researchers at John Hopkins University found that skin treated with an extract of newly sprouted broccoli seeds and then exposed to UV radiation had 38 percent less redness and swelling then untreated skin--and remained protected for several days.
Green tea When it's hot, the bionic brew releases catechins, a type of antioxidant with proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. (The tea's antioxidants start to degrade as it cools, so drink it while it's hot.) A 2007 study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that drinking two to six cups a day not only helps prevent skin cancer but may reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralizing the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin.
~article courtesy of Women's Health magazine