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Skin care

This Just In: Eating Your Veggies Can Make You Tan

Research reveals that you can munch your way to a darker, healthier complexion

This may sound like propaganda from the fruits and veggies growers' association (if there were such thing), but according to dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart, who cites a 2011 study done by one Dr. Stephen at the UK's University of Nottingham, raiding your local farm stand or produce aisle for certain vitamin-packed foods, can give you a natural, glowing tan.

The key, according to Dr. Stuart and others in the know, is seeking out salad fixings that are packed with antioxidant champ, carotene. (Think: carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.) These and, also "Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale also contain large quantities of beta-carotene," says the good doctor, "and are also responsible for affecting one's skin pigmentation. Therefore, consuming regular quantities of these vegetables will also create a natural tan."

Referring to the Nottingham study, Dr. Stuart says, "The results indicated that consuming several extra portions of fruits and vegetables daily could result in increased skin pigmentation due to naturally occurring chemicals called carotenes. These findings were similar to those obtained with mild tanning of the skin in these study patients."

And, while, everyone's body reacts differently to the beta-carotene and requires differing levels to get "tan," as with anything, going for this kind of glow needs to be done in moderation or you risk coming down with "carotenia" a reversible condition that turns your skin yellow, basically alerting you to the fact that you've been gorging on to too much of the good stuff. In fact, driving the point home, a mom we know harkens back to the days when her kids were babies and would chow down on jar after jar of mushed carrots till one day she noticed that their cheeks and little noses were certifiably orange. One call to the pediatrician had those kids dialing down the bunny foods for a while.

Of course, eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables has long been recommended by people who know these things, for the health benefits alone and, some containing powerful antioxidants, like the highly revered blueberry, are even said to retard the aging process so, getting a tan could be considered more of an ancillary bonus than the main goal here.

Would you start scarfing more carotene-loaded foods in search of a natural tan? Or, would you rather just try one of these 9 Best Self Tanners and stick to your regular diet?


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