While doctors warn that paranoia about the sun’s harmful effects is overblown, you still need to practice safe, healthy sun protection. And did you know that the foods you eat play a role? “Food is no sunscreen substitute, but what you eat may help to protect your skin,” explains Alive health magazine. “While many foods are beneficial, several specific ones play a special role.” The following three recipes all include the right foods for sun protection, so you can enjoy the summer weather while knowing your diet is helping to protect your skin from the inside out.

Foods For Sun Protection: Key Areas to Focus On

Alive details various medical studies that point to a few key foods for sun protection:

  • Cocoa: Cocoa flavanols have been shown to actually reduce the harm caused by the sun’s ultraviolet light. protection from UV damage.
  • Lycopene: This antioxidant found in red foods like tomatoes may lower your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and even help prevent sunburns.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These health fats, found in foods like salmon and walnuts, have been shown to prevent some forms of skin cancer and reduce UV skin damage.
  • Vitamin C: Not only does it boost your immune system, but it can also ward off secondary effects of sun exposure, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Those aren’t the only foods for sun protection. “Additional helpful foods include green tea; resveratrol, found in red wine; and quercetin, an antioxidant in apples,” explains the publication. Ready to add these foods for sun protection to your diet? These delicious recipes are good for your skin, good for your immune system, and — perhaps most importantly for many of us — taste delicious!

BREAKFAST: Chocolate Banana Almond Smoothie

Start your day filled with foods for sun protection the easy way — whipping up a quick smoothie! This smoothie is rich in antioxidants from the cocoa powder, provides healthy fats from the almond butter and chia seeds, and offers a good amount of fiber and vitamins from the banana and optional spinach.

1 banana (preferably frozen for a creamier texture)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional, for added sweetness)
A handful of spinach (optional, for extra nutrients)
Ice cubes (optional, for a thicker consistency)

Prepare the Ingredients: If your banana isn’t frozen, you can add a few ice cubes to the blender for a thicker smoothie.

Place the banana, cocoa powder, almond butter, almond milk, chia seeds, honey or maple syrup (if using), and spinach (if using) into a blender.

Blend all the ingredients on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

If the smoothie is too thick, add a little more almond milk until you reach your desired consistency.

Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.


LUNCH: Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad

If you want foods for sun protection that are high in vitamin C, this tasty salad is a powerhouse:

  • Red bell pepper: One of the richest sources of vitamin C, red bell peppers provide more than 100% of the daily recommended intake in just half a cup.
  • Broccoli: Contains a significant amount of vitamin C, offering about 135% of the daily value per cup when cooked.
  • Oranges: Well-known for their high vitamin C content, half an orange provides about 70% of the daily value.
  • Strawberries: Another excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup providing about 150% of the daily value.
  • Kale: While also a good source of other nutrients, kale adds to the vitamin C content of the salad.

This combination ensures that the salad is not only high in protein from the chicken and quinoa but also rich in vitamin C, supporting immune health and overall vitality.

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup broccoli florets, steamed
1/2 orange, segmented
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

If not already cooked, prepare the quinoa according to package instructions.

Grill the chicken breast and slice it once cooked.

Lightly steam the broccoli florets until tender but still crisp.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, sliced chicken, spinach, kale, red bell pepper, broccoli, orange segments, strawberries, and almonds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, honey or maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.

Sprinkle feta cheese on top if using. Enjoy your nutrient-packed salad!


DINNER: Grilled Salmon with Quinoa and Avocado Salad

This dish is not only a delicious and satisfying dinner option, but it’s also packed with omega-3 fatty acids — making it the perfect way to round out a day full of foods for sun protection.

Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, which are beneficial for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation. Other sources of healthy fats that are good for your skin include flaxseeds (a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants) and avocadoes (contains small amounts of omega-3s and is high in healthy monounsaturated fats)

The rich, buttery flavor of the grilled salmon pairs perfectly with the fresh, zesty quinoa and avocado salad. The addition of a tangy lemon vinaigrette ties all the flavors together, making this dish a perfect balance of savory, tangy, and fresh. The textures in this meal—from the crispness of the veggies to the creaminess of the avocado and the flakiness of the salmon—create a delightful eating experience that will please your entire family and guests.

For the Salmon:

4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (optional)

For the Quinoa and Avocado Salad:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 avocado, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons flaxseeds (optional, for extra omega-3s)

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the quinoa under cold water. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and let it cool slightly.

Next up is the salmon. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the lemon slices on the grill and lay the salmon fillets on top of them (this helps prevent sticking and infuses the fish with lemon flavor).

Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the salmon is cooked to your desired level of doneness.

Sprinkle with fresh dill before serving.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, parsley, and flaxseeds (if using).

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey or maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Pour the lemon vinaigrette over the quinoa and avocado salad and toss to combine. Serve the grilled salmon fillets alongside the salad.