The traditional diet of the people living in the Mediterranean countries is believed to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. The Mediterranean diet could reduce the risk of heart diseases, diabetes and several forms of cancer.
In a recent study, reported in the journal Nutrition Review, scientists of Tel Aviv University have found that Mediterranean diet could protect the skin from the harmful radiations of the sun.
Despite the long sunny days in the Mediterranean regions, residents of these regions have the lowest rate of melanoma or skin cancer. Researchers believe that the diet of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries might protect them from skin cancer.
The ultraviolet rays of the sun could penetrate deep into the skin. While some amount of sunlight is essential for stimulating synthesis of vitamin D, prolonged exposure to sunlight damages the skin as well as the immune system through photo-oxidation.
Photo-oxidation also impairs the body’s natural ability to repair damaged cells. It even damages the DNA of the skin cells. All these factors increase the risk of skin cancer.
The antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acid rich Mediterranean diet could prevent the harmful activities of the sun. In the Tel Aviv University study, researchers have found that despite spending five to six hours in the sun every day, people who drank antioxidant rich beverages had fifty per cent less oxidation products in the blood than people who drank soda drinks.
Studies have also proved that antioxidants such as carotenoids offer first line of protection from sun. They help to slow down development of erythema, a skin condition characterized by rash and redness of the skin. Erythema is often the early sign of skin cancer.
Yellow, orange and red colored vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins, oranges and watermelons are the richest sources of carotenoids. Carotenoids are present in abundance in the Mediterranean diet.
Although we are often tempted to include dietary supplements in our daily diet to meet our daily nutrient requirements, researchers have warned that supplements might not be as effective as a balanced diet.
Modifying your dietary habits by including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish and olive oil could protect your skin from cancer.