Watermelon and sun protection?
June 10th, 2021
With the heat increasing so does the dehydration. Watermelon is our savior with summer just around the corner! Not only because watermelon can hydrate us due to it being 92% water, but it also has the power to aid in ultra violet radiation protection from the sun!
What is ultra violet radiation and why is it bad for you? There are two main types of UV rays; UVA and UVB. UVB rays from the sunshine are the main cause of sunburn, affecting the outer layers of the skin and contribute to skin cancer. Whereas UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB. This can play a major role in skin aging and wrinkling and of course contribute to the growth of skin cancer. What happens when these rays hit our skin? The UV rays react with a skin chemical called melanin. Melanin absorbs some of these UV rays, but cannot absorb all of them, and some people do not have much melanin in their skin, which can then lead to skin damage such as sunburn, premature skin aging, skin cancer and even eye problems such as Cataracts. Sunburn occurs when the amount of UV rays your body is exposed to exceeds the protection that the skin’s melanin can provide to you, causing a visual redness, pain and even blistering. In a way, you’re being ‘cooked’ a little!
Premature aging of the skin, also known as photoaging, is due to long-term repeated sun exposure without enough skin protection. Damage to the skin causes loss of collagen, widening of blood vessels in the skin, hyperpigmentation spots, wrinkling and can cause the skin to become thick and leathery. Continued unprotected overexposure of the skin to the sun can lead to deeper damage and possible skin cancer.
So, we know that being out in the sun too long is bad for the skin, but how can we limit our sun exposure when most of the year we are blessed with hot sunny days here in Bahia de Banderas? We can start with wearing a hat, wearing sunglasses, applying sunscreen and cover up when in the sun for longer than 15 minutes at a time. And we can also consume foods high in lycopene, such as watermelon that provide the skin with extra UV radiation protection. Lycopene is a pytochemical with strong antioxidant properties that has been found to have UV protective abilities in the skin. This means that by simply eating a refreshing slice of watermelon daily, you can boost your sun protection! Research reveals that watermelons contain more lycopene than cooked tomatoes, and the lycopene found in watermelons has the ability to absorb both UVA and UVB radiation particularly when consumed on a regular basis, acting a bit like a natural sunblock! Not only that, lycopene in watermelon can protect the skin against sunburn and even skin cancer, by blocking UV light, the antioxidant properties found in watermelon can also help to fight against wrinkles, as well as prevent DNA damage in skin cells.
Now of course this doesn’t mean you should stop using sunblock when out in the sun, however it’s good to know that you may burn and damage skin less easily with the regular consumption of watermelon!
The best watermelon is a vine ripened watermelon! It doesn’t matter if it is big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Start by giving it a knock and compare to another fruit. If it’s ripe and juicy it will make a hollow sound. Next, look for the yellow spot on the underbelly – this is where the watermelon rested on the ground, if it’s a creamy yellow color you know it’s ripe!
Take home and slice open to eat or try this ultimate Sun Protector Mocktail!
SUN PROTECTOR MOCKTAIL
Serves 2 glasses
2 cups of fresh watermelon pieces
1 cup of pure Guava Juice
1/2 cup sparkling water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
If you want to make this drink super refreshing – freeze the freshly chopped watermelon before making the drink. Once the watermelon has been chopped and seeds taken out, place into a blender.
Place the chilled guava juice, lemon juice, pinch of salt and a few mint leaves into the blender with the watermelon and blend well. Gently mix the sparkling water in with the rest and top with fresh mint leaves. Sip out in the sunshine and enjoy the UV protection benefits!