Headed to the beach, out for a hike, or even hopping into the car to get to work? Although catching 10-30 minutes of sun gives you a healthy dose of Vitamin D, you also need to protect your skin. 

While sunscreen is hopefully already a part of your daily routine (and if you need to stock up, here’s a list of ocean-friendly sunscreens that won’t harm coral reefs), did you know you can also eat foods to help guard your skin from ultraviolet rays? 

Salmon Contains a Powerful Carotenoid Called Astaxanthin 

Salmon is one of these superfoods! This delicious fish contains astaxanthin (a carotenoid that accounts for the pink color in certain plants and animals), which has been shown to reduce inflammation from sunburns and also block cellular damage from UV rays. (When your skin is overexposed to the sun, UV rays activate free radicals, which are energized molecules that can lead to wrinkles and cancer.)


Where Does Astaxanthin Come From? 

Similar to chlorophyll, which makes plants green, astaxanthin is produced when microalgae come into contact with the sun, turning them red and protecting them from its harmful rays. Salmon eat these algaes and the tiny shrimp, called krill, that also enjoy the red algae. The astaxanthin then turns the salmon red and fills them with this potent antioxidant. 

Astaxanthin is actually more powerful than Vitamin C and CoQ10 and 1,000 times more effective than vitamin E! 


How Do Omega-3s Also Support Skin Health? 

Astaxanthin is just one more great reason to eat salmon. Most of us know it is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are also anti-inflammatories that block the release of enzymes generated by UV exposure. 

Not only do omega-3s prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin, they also help your skin retain moisture, which supports your skin in maintaining its elasticity and radiance. 

The Bottom Line

In a way, you can think of astaxanthin as “sunscreen” on the plate. Plus, when you eat salmon, those omegas-3s also support the health of your brain, heart, eyes, and joints.


We recommend also adding veggies like cauliflower, carrots, and leafy greens to your salmon meal for a one-two power punch. Just remember to use topical sunscreen everyday to make sure you are fully protected! 

With all that sun, cooking salmon may not sound so fun – that's ok, try it as poke! You’ll love this Poke Bowl with Black Forbidden Rice, Mushrooms, and Sesame or Beet Kvass Poke recipe.