Remember how your mother told you not to eat too many carrots or you’d turn orange? She had a point.
But with the summer sun behind us and the frigid weather ahead, it’s time to embrace your inner Bugs Bunny and get chomping. The most natural and damage-free way to a tan (or at least a healthy glow) is by eating naturally pigmented produce like carrots. And a lot of it.
When you eat carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies frequently, the extra carotenoids are stored in the fat just beneath your skin, where it ends up showing through and giving you the appearance of having an actual sun-kissed glow. Don’t buy it? Take a look at flamingos. Their vibrant pink and red colors come from the carotenoid proteins found in their diet of animal and plant plankton. In fact, flamingos that only eat blue-green algae, for instance, are a different color.
Carotenoids are a group of A vitamins that include beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. They are organic pigments found in chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants (deja vu, Biology 101) and aren’t produced by animals or humans – just ingested through their diets. They also destroy free radicals caused by too much sun, so they’re good at preventing wrinkles, and certain carotenoids absorb damaging lights to the eye, protecting the macula of the retina.
So how do you incorporate more carotenoids into your diet? Look for red, green, and orange vegetables: dark, leafy greens (think kale); plums; tomatoes; sweet potatoes; carrots; and beets are all great places to start. Chop ‘em and eat them raw or steamed, or juice them together for an organic, drinkable sunless tanner. Your body will thank you when you’re older.
Originally published on the former Sweetlemonmag.com