July is UV Safety Month: What You Eat Can Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Researchers from Harvard University recently announced that lutein (LOO-teen) —a potent antioxidant found in such dark green, leafy vegetables as spinach and kale —may protect the skin from sun damage.
“Lutein has been widely recognized for its eye health benefits for several years, but, our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer,” said Salvador Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., leader of the Harvard research team. “In addition, because these data suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, it further validates our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health.”
Lutein is a yellow pigment (the yellow is covered up by chlorophyll in green leaves) found predominantly in vegetables. It is also present in the eyes and skin of the human body. As an antioxidant, lutein protects the eyes from the damaging effects of aging. Lutein also acts as a light filter, protecting against the sun’s harmful rays.
UVA and UVB rays are two types of harmful rays found in sunlight. UVA rays contribute to wrinkling the skin, as well as to the development of skin cancer. UVB rays are the ones that are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer.
Don’t just protect yourself by eating well! Good sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays and are critical to skin health.