New research suggests that certain types of foods and antioxidants may successfully help the body to fight against sunburn. Beta-carotene -- an antioxidant found in leafy vegetables, carrots, red peppers and yellow fruits such as mangos, melons and apricots -- has proven effective. Studies show that beta-carotene works best when a person eats at least five servings of foods that contain the antioxidant per day for a period of at least 10 weeks. Although the effects of beta-carotene aren't strong enough for it to be a complete replacement for sunscreen, this nutrient can help provide constant protection to every area of the skin [source: European Food Information Council].
Researchers have found that tomatoes -- or at least lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes -- may also protect the skin from sunburn. Like beta-carotene, the effects of lycopene become more effective after getting a daily requirement for around three months [source: University of Michigan].
Green tea, often touted for its various health benefits, consists of polyphenols -- a type of antioxidant -- which could also protect the skin from UV rays. To reap these benefits, the polyphenols can be consumed as a drink, or they can be applied directly to skin [source: UC San Diego].
Although the effects of these foods are not strong enough to replace sunscreens, the combination of these nutrients with your daily sunscreen regimen will help give you the best possible coverage. And eating all those vitamins and antioxidants could benefit your health in other ways, too.
Wearing the right clothes and eating the right foods is a start, but read on for additional tips on how to protect yourself from the sun.