What foods help tanning?

What foods help tanning?

Publication date: 08-08-2023

Updated on: 09-10-2023

Topic: Nutrition

Estimated reading time: 1 min

Nutrition and tanning are 2 closely related concepts, this is because skin protection comes through nutrition. Who wouldn't want a perfect tan in summer? Dr. Chiara Boscaro, nutrition biologist at Zucchi Wellness Clinic and Istituto Clinico San Siro, explains how to achieve it through proper nutrition.

Food is a friend of the tan

“To achieve a golden and even tan, it is important to adopt a diet that stimulates it. It is essential to bring foods to the table that are rich in substances that can neutralize the production of free radicals in response to UV exposure, preventing skin aging.

Fruits and vegetables, in particular, play a vital role for our bodies because they: 

  • provide water, vitamins, minerals;
  • protect the epidermis;
  • replenish what is lost through sweating,” says Dr. Boscaro.

Beta-carotene, vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids for a healthy tan

The pigment that gives us a darker complexion in summer is melanin, which also protects us like a filter from the harmful effects of solar radiation. Unfortunately, there are no foods that contain melanin, but many foods contain its precursor: beta-carotene. This substance is found in yellow or reddish-orange fruits and vegetables: 

  • tomatoes,
  • watermelon,
  • strawberries,
  • peppers,
  • peaches,
  • apricots,
  • cantaloupe,
  • carrots,
  • spinach,
  • red radicchio.

In addition to promoting melanin production by skin cells, beta-carotene has numerous properties:

  • strong antioxidant power, so it can also protect the skin from aging;
  • beneficial effects on the immune system and circulatory system;
  • it is also the precursor of vitamin A, which, in addition to promoting skin pigmentation, helps boost the natural defenses against ultraviolet rays and counteracts the formation of free radicals.

In addition to beta-carotene, the following are essential for a lasting tan: 

  • all red-colored foods because they are so rich in lycopene, an antioxidant substance that prevents skin aging and protects it from the sun;
  • vitamin C found in kiwi, papaya, mango, pineapple, and blueberries, which promotes the synthesis of components such as collagen that keep the skin toned and elastic;
  • vitamin E found in extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil, which can fight cellular aging and stimulate epidermal regeneration; 
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, which also promote proper melanin formation within melanocytes and facilitate their transport to the outer layers of the dermis due to the fluidity typical of their structure, and are contained in nuts, oil and flaxseed, small, preferably local fish such as anchovies, mackerel, sea bass, sea bream, cod, milk and avocado. 

The expert's advice: “It is well known that fruit contains a lot of sugar. Therefore, one should always be careful of excess and limit oneself to consuming about 3 servings per day, including extracts or smoothies.”

10 foods to eat to get a tan

Here are the top 10 most common foods that, taken daily, promote tanning:

  1. carrots: 100-200 gr,
  2. spinach: 200 gr,
  3. radicchio: 100 gr,
  4. watermelon: 1 medium slice,
  5. peaches: 150 gr,
  6. avocado: 40 gr per meal in addition to olive oil,
  7. lettuce: 100 gr,
  8. kiwi fruit: 2 small ones,
  9. dried fruits: 30 gr,
  10. tomatoes: 150 gr. 

Hydration is essential

To hydrate the skin, especially in summer, it is essential to take in at least 3 liters of water a day: 1.5 liters are introduced through the water we drink, the remaining 1.5 liters through fruits and vegetables. This is because water helps maintain the elasticity of the epidermis and prevents dryness and flaking. 

In order to maintain our tan for a long time, we can drink at least 8 glasses a day, which will provide us with the proper fluid supply to the body and a good skin glow. In addition, a well-hydrated epidermis will be less prone to aging and is more likely to stay healthy.

The expert's advice: “For those who cannot drink water, they can alternate it with sugar-free iced tea, fresh herbal teas and waters flavored with fruits and vegetables, which are more palatable.”

Importance of olive oil

“People often think that to “save calories” it is better not to add oil to raw and cooked vegetables. A mistake is made here because it is not enough to eat, for example, plenty of carrots to get the right amount of beta-carotene. What is important is to make beta-carotene bioavailable, but how? Adding extra virgin olive oil either raw or when cooking. In this way, beta-carotene, which is a fat-soluble substance, is released right into the oil. 

The same goes for vitamin E, which in fact is carried by fats themselves.”

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