A dedicated show of American patriotism—red, white and blue (the blue is internal). Let’s hope this guy is a coffee drinker. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Paddle Healthy || Skin Protection Series

Part 2: Skin superfoods

Nobody enjoys looking like a lobster after a long day in the sun. And, as paddlers, or outdoorsmen and women, we know all too well that there's plenty of opportunity to burn. So, continuing with our Paddlers Skin Protection Series, we're taking a look at what you can do to help protect your skin, starting from the inside. In this edition of Paddle Healthy, we're looking at common foods that you can include [more of] in your diet to help keep the UV rays from frying your skin, and even ward off skin cancer. —Shari Coble

Coffee: That daily cup of java may be working overtime. In addition to delivering your caffeine fix, research shows that the antioxidants in a single cup of coffee help decrease your odds of developing a non-melanoma skin cancer by 5 percent. Additional perks to sipping a cup of joe: potentially fending off mental decline and lowering the risk of heart disease.

Fish: Our finned-friends like tuna, salmon, and sardines pack the essential fatty acid—omega-3—which has been proven to reduce tumor growth and help keep skin from aging by preserving the skin-firming protein, collagen. A study in England also found that diets which included a regular dose of fish oils not only boosted skin immunity to sunlight, but also diminished sunlight-induced suppression of the immune system (immunosuppression), which affects the body's ability to fight skin cancer and infection.

Cocoa: High levels of polyphenols (types of compounds) in cocoa can reduce the damaging emissions from the sun, as their antioxidant properties boost skin protection. It's also shown to enhance overall skin health, so next time your sweet tooth is calling, go for some dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa.

Tea: The polyphenols and catechins (types of compounds) present in green and black teas are rich in antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals, which can lead to skin cancer or a variety of other types of cancer. The polyphenols may also protect against UVB rays, and the caffeine doesn't hurt either. It helps reduce soreness and may even boost your metabolism, as well as restore glycogen used during physical activity.

Tomato: Lycopene is a compound known to stave off cancer as it too fights free radicals within. It’s also the compound that gives tomatoes their reddish color. While lycopene is found in other foods like watermelon and pink grapefruit, research has found that the the concentration of lycopene in the body tripled after consuming tomato paste, versus eating raw tomato.

Stay tuned to's Paddle Healthy feature for the final installment to the Paddlers' Skin Protection Series.

More Paddle Healthy here.
Part 1 of our Skin Protection Series: Sunblock Safety.