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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Good and Bad of Sun Exposure

Lounging in the sun is not only a pleasant way of getting a sun-kissed glow. New research shows that, with the necessary precautions, sunbathing is not as bad as originally thought!
In fact, sunshine is essential for our health, given the number of benefits it brings to our body:
  • It stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D
  • It increases the tone of our muscles
  • It improves our mood
  • It relieves muscular and rheumatic pain
  • It promotes growth and general well-being

However, we must not forget that excessive exposure can also have dangerous side effects. Along with the more common burns and rashes, excessive sun exposure can also cause premature aging, damage to the eyes (that’s why it’s important to wear sunglasses on sunny days) and melanoma skin cancer.

Those who are prone to solar erythema and have the tendency to sunburn easily should avoid foods such as asparagus, artichokes and beer, which are rich in nickel and, therefore, can trigger an allergic reaction and the release of histamine.

It’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, rich in water, vitamins and minerals. In particular, yellow, orange and red fruit and vegetables, like carrots, peppers, peaches, apricots and melon: foods rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of sunburn in individuals who are sensitive to sun exposure.

Drink at least 2 litres of water per day, to restore fluid balance. Avoid alcohol and foods high in sodium, which cause water retention and can contribute to dehydration.

It is essential to use a sunscreen with the appropriate Sun Protection Factor (SPF), according to your skin type. In addition, sun exposure should be avoided in the hours between 11am and 4pm.

Here is the recipe for a quick and easy beta carotene-rich salad:

Honey-Mustard Chicken and Carrots

Remove any fat and/or bones from 400g of chicken breast.
Place it in a pot with 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges, cover with water. 

Boil for 30 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, peel 500g carrots and cut them into julienne strips.

Boil them in water for 3 minutes, drain.

In a bowl whisk 40g of sweet mustard with 20ml of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey and a few drops of lemon juice until smooth.

Drain the meat, cut it into chunks, mix it with the carrots and place it on a serving dish. 

Drizzle with the sauce and season with 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns coarsely crushed.

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