What you eat affects your skin, and Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite For Health, wants to make sure you are feeding it the right foods. Read on for the top five foods to help your complexion.
Want age-defying skin? Check out what's in your kitchen, not what's in your bathroom. Healthy skin comes from what you put in your body, not on it. Research shows that certain foods contain nutrients and other bioactive compounds that help fend off age-related damage like fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Sun exposure and other environmental factors can take a toll on the skin by producing excess free-radical damage that causes accelerated aging. Try these five "must-have" foods for healthier and younger-looking skin.
Berries provide a one-two punch for your skin: they're rich in vitamin C and are among the highest sources of antioxidants of all foods. Research shows that people who eat foods rich in vitamin C (from fruits and veggies) have fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who don't. Vitamin C and antioxidants help fend off free radicals, which cause damage to healthy skin cells and can break down the skin's elastin and collagen, which leads to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. A cup of strawberries or raspberries has just 50 calories and strawberries provide more than your daily requirement for vitamin C and raspberries provide 40 percent of your daily C quota.
Green tea is especially rich in polyphenols that have potent antioxidant properties. According to some studies, compounds in tea may help prevent UVB-related skin damage and skin cancer. The primary catechin in tea, EGCG, has been shown to help protect the skin from age-related damage. (You can also apply chilled damp green tea bags directly to your skin to soothe a sunburn.)
Want glowing skin? Add some mango to your diet. This superfruit delivers key nutrients that pack a powerful punch when it comes to skin health: vitamin C, beta-carotene (a precursor for vitamin A), and folic acid. One cup of mango delivers a whopping 100 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C. This antioxidant supports collagen formation, regeneration, and wound repair. What's more, research has linked vitamin C with improved appearance of aging skin. One study found that people with higher intakes of vitamin C had a less wrinkled appearance and reduced skin dryness and thinning associated with aging.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon are important for your skin's health because they provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help fend off age-related skin damage. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that older people who consumed more fish over their life had fewer wrinkles than those who ate more meat. Vegetables, olive oil, and legumes were also associated with fewer wrinkles, while consumption of meat, dairy, and butter were associated with more wrinkles.
And the omega-3s in salmon may even help protect against skin cancer. In a study of skin cancer, researchers found that people who ate diets rich in fish oils and other omega-3 fats had a 29 percent lower risk of squamous cell skin cancer than those who ate very little omega-3 fats.
Sweet Potatoes (. . . and Other Orange Veggies)
The orange hue of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, and other orangish veggies comes from carotenoids like beta-carotene that help protect the skin from free-radical damage. Carotenoids are known to be present in the skin where they have been shown to help protect the layers of the skin from the sun's skin-damaging UV radiation. In one study reported in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, subjects were provided a supplement containing carotenoids, selenium, and vitamin E for 12 weeks and markers of skin aging were tested before and after supplementation. After 12 weeks, the results found that the skin was healthier, and on the surface, it had less scaling and roughness among subjects receiving the supplement.