Best Foods for Healthy Skin
Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain, and even damage organs, such as your heart and liver.
But what you eat also affects another organ - your skin.
As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it’s increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
This article takes a look at best foods for keeping your skin healthy.
Avocados are high in healthy fats. These fats benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin.
Getting enough of these fats is essential to help keep skin flexible and moisturized.
One study involving over 700 women found that a high intake of total fat - specifically the types of healthy fats found in avocados - was associated with more supple, springy skin.
Preliminary evidence also shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage. Most Americans don’t get enough vitamin E through their diet.
Interestingly, vitamin E seems to be more effective when combined with vitamin C.
Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
Vitamin C deficiency is rare these days, but common symptoms include dry, rough, and scaly skin that tends to bruise easily.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and the environment, which can lead to signs of aging.
A 100-gram serving, or about 1/2 an avocado, provides 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 11% of the DV for vitamin C.
They’re a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself.
In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
A diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of your skin like psoriasis.
On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body - including in your skin.
While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare.
Because walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids, they may help fight the potential inflammatory response to excessive omega-6.
What’s more, walnuts contain other nutrients that your skin needs to function properly and stay healthy.
One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 8% of the DV for zinc.
Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier. It’s also necessary for wound healing and combating both bacteria and inflammation.
Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, in addition to 4-5 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams).
Sunflower seeds are an excellent example.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
It functions as provitamin A, which means it can be converted into vitamin A in your body.
Beta carotene is found in oranges and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source - one 1/2-cup (100-gram) serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A.
Carotenoids like beta carotene help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock.
When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and helps protect your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
Interestingly, high amounts of beta carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier appearance.
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A.
They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong.
A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
A large observational study involving women linked eating plenty of vitamin C to a reduced risk of wrinkled and dry skin with age.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene.
Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling.
Because tomatoes are rich in carotenoids, they’re an excellent food for maintaining healthy skin.
Consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil. Fat increases your absorption of carotenoids.
If you need one more reason to eat chocolate, here it is: The effects of cocoa on your skin are pretty phenomenal.
After 6-12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin.
Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow - which brings more nutrients to your skin.
Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate.
Several other studies have observed similar results, including improvements in the appearance of wrinkles. However, keep in mind that at least one study didn’t find significant effects.
Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
Red grapes are famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes.
Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, among them is reducing the effects of aging.
Test-tube studies suggest it may also help slow the production of harmful free radicals, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging.
This beneficial compound is also found in red wine. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to affect your skin.
And since red wine is an alcoholic beverage, there are negative effects to drinking it in excess.
It’s not recommended to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. Instead, you should increase your intake of redgrapes and berries.
What you eat can significantly affect your skin health.
Make sure you’re getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and attractive.