A healthy diet is important for maintaining not only your waistline, but your vital organs like your heart and liver. Your diet also affects your largest organ - your skin.
Certain foods are potent sources of vitamins and minerals that keep skin soft and smooth while protecting against damaging free radicals. Incorporate these foods into your diet for healthy, glowing skin from the inside out. In the case of these skin-healthy foods, you really are what you eat.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that fight dryness and keep skin healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for keeping skin supple and moisturized. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough omega-3 fats into their diet.
Fatty fish are also an amazing source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects skin against free radicals in the environment.
Fish are also a great source of protein. Protein is important for the production of collagen and elastin, both of which keep skin taut and firm.
Like fatty fish, avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that moisturize the skin and protect against free radicals.
Avocados are also an important source of vitamin C, which increases vitamin E’s effectiveness. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant that maintains skin’s structural integrity. Vitamin C is also crucial to the production of collagen, which keeps skin supple and youthful.
Research shows that tomatoes may provide protection from UV rays. According to a 2008 UK study, people who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily had 33% more protection against sunburn compared to a control group. Tomatoes’ high lycopene content is to thank for its skin-protecting effects. Just be aware - eating tomatoes is not a substitute for good, old-fashioned sunscreen!
Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants. According research published in Clinics of Dermatology, these antioxidants can actually neutralize any UV rays that get through your sunscreen. Plus, kale is a great source of skin-loving vitamins C and A.
- Green Tea
Green tea is rich in catechins, a family of powerful antioxidants. According to researchers at Case Western Reserve University, green tea’s antioxidants may reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Not only do catechins protect against free radicals, but they also contribute to a smoother complexion with less redness.
- Sunflower Seeds
Believe it or not, this delicious snack is rich in many nutrients crucial to skin health. One ounce of sunflower seeds contains 32% of the daily recommended value for selenium, an essential mineral that protects cells from damage and reduces inflammation.
Sunflower seeds are also a great source of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that prevents thinning skin and keeps skin moisturized.
Furthermore, sunflower seeds provide significant amounts of vitamin E and protein, both of which are important for healthy skin.
- Red Wine
Australian researchers found that adults who drink moderate amounts of red wine are 28% less likely to develop actinic keratoses (a type of skin lesion from sun damage) than adults who do not imbibe red wine. This is because red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant credited with many health benefits including slowing the aging of skin.
However, it’s important to note that drinking red wine (or any alcohol) in excess can have negative effects on the skin. To maximize health benefits without overdoing it, stick to only drinking one glass of red wine per day.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are commonly touted as a superfood - and for good reason. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects against sun damage. Plus, beta-carotene contributes to a more beautiful complexion. According to a 2011 UK study, people who eat beta-carotene had complexions with yellow undertones, which was rated by others as looking more healthy.
- Dark Chocolate
Cocoa’s powerful flavanols have been shown to improve skin’s elasticity and protect against free radicals. As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate!
To maximize the benefits, choose a dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao and stick to a 1 oz portion size.
How will you be incorporating these foods into your diet? Did your favorite food make our list? Let us know in the comments.
Written by: Colleen Welsch