10 Delicious Foods that Maintain Skin Health
The skin is the largest organ in our body and acts as a protective barrier between our body and the environment. Therefore, it requires a little nutritional TLC. A healthy diet is an essential part of our skincare maintenance routine, and an unbalanced diet can cause visible problems.
The way we look makes a big first impression, so it’s no wonder we constantly worry about the state of our skin, teeth, body, hair… everything! Achieving that effortless covergirl glow is anything but effortless. Beauty creams and cosmetic brands often make big promises, but evidence shows that eating a healthy diet is just as important to smooth and radiant skin as topical routines.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite foods for healthier looking skin.
1. Avocados Protect and Moisturize
When we’re trying to be healthy, we’re usually told to cut down on fat. But there are good fats and bad fats. Avocados are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which benefit many functions in the body, including moisturizing the skin - keeping it soft and supple.
These healthy fats also come with a dose of vitamin E, which many of us lack in our diet. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect our skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and the environment, which can lead to signs of aging. It is especially effective when combined with vitamin C, and avocados have both!
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. So go ahead and get yourself some smashed avocado on toast!
2. Pomegranates Provide Hydration
Pomegranates are made up of more than 85% water, and have few fats and very few calories (35 kilocalories per 100 grams). They also have a high concentration of vitamins, especially C, A and E, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. "It is a good diuretic and favors the elimination of liquids" , explains Dr. Ana Bellón, specialist in dietetics and nutrition.
Pomegranates are one of the best fruits providing powerful antioxidants, making it a natural source to combat signs of aging. They increase blood circulation which helps to prevent or reduce acne. Its high water content makes it an amazing moisturizer and it even prevents hyperpigmentation and the appearance of dark spots. Essentially, pomegranates are the fruit your skin dreams of!
3. Green Tea Keeps You Young
There’s a reason why Asian women look younger for longer. Yes, maybe it’s in their genes, but it’s also in their ritualistic tea drinking!
The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins, and work to improve the health of your skin in several ways. "It's very high in antioxidants, particularly one named EGCG, which is proven to reduce redness," says Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., nutrition consultant for Equinox Sports Clubs in New York City.
One 12-week study involving 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25%. Green tea also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of their skin.
However, take another note from Asian women and avoid drinking your tea with milk, as there’s evidence that dairy could reduce the effect of green tea’s antioxidants.
4. Nuts Nourish from the Inside
If you’re nuts about nuts, great news - they’re all good for your skin!
The ellagic acid found in nuts has been linked to protecting skin cells from UV damage. Pecans pack antioxidants and minerals, like vitamins A and E, plus calcium and potassium. They’re also a source of zinc which is another nutrient that may help to promote glowing skin and protect immunity.
Walnuts are rich in essential fats, zinc, vitamin E, selenium and protein, all of which are nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy. "Walnuts contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can improve skin's elasticity," says David Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, NY. These super-healthy nuts are also loaded with copper, a mineral that boosts collagen production.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. Studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. One way to boost your intake is to eat Brazil nuts. Just four nuts will provide the recommended daily amount!
5. Fatty Fish Against Skin Inflammation
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids , which are key to healthy looking skin. Omega-3 fats encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. They can also reduce redness, acne, prevent flaky skin and act as moisturizers by releasing natural oils.
As well as being a great source of protein, which keeps your skin strong, fish provides us with zinc. A zinc deficiency can lead to inflamed skin, lesions and any wounds will take longer to heal.
Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for your skin, protecting it from inflammation and free radicals.
6. Greek Yogurt Strengthens Your Skin
The Greeks have long been in search of the fountain of youth, and it comes as no surprise that for centuries, they have been boosting their skin care routine with the very same item that we have in our refrigerators: Greek yogurt.
Regarded the world over as a superfood, Greek yogurt boasts two and a half times the amount of protein in regular yogurt. Protein, whether in the skin products we use or in our diet, helps in repairing skin tissues, making it more radiant and young-looking. “By boosting your skin care routine with protein-rich Greek yogurt, you deliver the same benefits to your skin that protein delivers to your body—helping to nourish, strengthen and repair,” says Lena Korres, co-founder of Athens-based natural brand, Korres.
As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat,” and including yogurt in your diet improves your metabolism and balances the good bacteria in your system, preventing breakouts even for those with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema. Meanwhile, adding yogurt to your skin care regime helps moisturize your skin and delay the signs of aging.
7. Dark Chocolate Hydrates Your Skin
We know you don’t need to be told to eat more chocolate… but you should! Well, just a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
The effects cocoa has on your skin is pretty amazing. One study showed that after 6-12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants every day, participants experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also smoother, 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 more than twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate. So make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to get the best results and keep added sugar to a minimum.
If you want to go a step further than just eating it, you can add it to your skincare routine! "When applied topically, the caffeine in chocolate may temporarily reduce puffiness," says Jessica Wu, M.D., a dermatologist in Los Angeles and the author of Feed Your Face. You’re welcome.
8. Soy Keeps Your Skin Firm and Radiant
For centuries, women in Asia have eaten plenty of soy — and it turns out, that could be why they often look younger than their years. Recent research suggests that soy foods can help keep your skin glowing, too.
Soy protein is one of the great assets today in the beauty world, with extremely effective moisturizing, regenerating and anti-aging properties. For this reason, the Swiss brand Wherteimar has two cosmetic products that contain high doses of it, capable of restoring the lipid balance of the skin.
Soy is a high protein legume, rich in lecithin and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It provides minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and vitamins such as K, thiamine, riboflavin, and folates. This legume is defined as an intelligent moisturizing active ingredient since although all skin types are improved by soybeans, dry and mature skin benefits the most since it acts as a moisturizer, regenerator, nutritive, softener and skin protector. It also contains isoflavones that promote the proper functioning of cellular metabolism, helping the skin to breathe better.
Likewise, it gives rise to the production of collagen and elastin fibers, in addition to treating the retention of water on the skin surface, acting as an antioxidant by inhibiting the oxidation levels of free radicals for more radiant and firm skin.
9. Carrots Prevent Skin Aging
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. But you don’t have to eat carrots to receive these nutritional benefits. Drinking carrot juice can be an easy way to add carrots to your diet.
If you have a history of skin problems, such as rashes or psoriasis, adding carrot juice to your diet may improve the appearance of your skin. Carrots contain vitamin C, which helps the production of collagen in the body, a protein that helps prevent wrinkles and slows down the aging process. It also helps skin recover faster from external wounds and trauma.
Carrots for oily skin? It’s worth a try. The key again is the beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A, in various forms like retinoids and tretinoin, is already included in many topical oily skin products. But you can naturally boost the skin’s vitamin A content by eating the carrots, as well. Beta-carotene in carrots also reduces skin inflammation, which speeds the healing process.
10. Seeds Make Your Skin Shine
Seeds are an energy source of essential fatty acids, like Omega 3, and are packed with protein, making it a superfood for shiny skin. Eating hemp or flax seeds as a snack or in salads or sandwiches helps protect your skin from wrinkles and sun damage. Sunflower seeds will provide you with a great contribution of vitamin B and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage by free radicals, helping to keep hair and skin healthy. Thanks to its high content of proteins and vitamins, quinoa improves muscle and prevents blemishes such as cellulite and stretch marks. Also, it is ideal for people who have dry skin because it is a great source of hydration.
A Balanced Diet Is Your Skin’s Best Friend
With any food, too much of a good thing can be a problem. Don’t start eating five avocados a day just because you have dry skin. Drinking lots of water and keeping a balanced diet is key. Including foods with healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, C and A, zinc and selenium will keep your skin on the road to perfection, even when you have the occasional takeaway or bottle of wine!
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