Can Salmon Save Your Skin?

By Fiona Kenny, R.D., "Can Salmon Save Your Skin?,"July/August 2009

Omega-3 fatty acids may boost your skin's defenses against UV damage.

If you spend your summer vacation soaking up the sun, your best defense (second to sunscreen, of course) may be what you order for dinner.

Healthy omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish can boost your skin’s defenses against UV damage, explains epidemiologist Adèle Green, Ph.D. In a study published in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers followed the eating habits of more than 1,100 Australian adults for approximately five years and found that those who ate a little more than 5 ounces of omega-3-rich fish—such as salmon and tuna—each week decreased the development of precancerous skin lesions by almost 30 percent.

The lesions, called actinic keratoses, are a common sign of chronic sun damage and can develop into skin cancer if left untreated. Scientists think the omega-3s act as a shield, protecting cell walls from free-radical damage.

So next time you head to the beach remember your sunscreen and hat, and make reservations at a restaurant that serves great seafood.