Have you ever heard the phrase, “Beauty comes from the inside out”? It means that what we eat really matters, not only in how we feel physically, but also in how we look. And while there is no shortage of pricey creams and potions available that advertise younger-looking skin, sometimes the answer is only as far away as your kitchen – and a lot less expensive.
Foods that contain antioxidants, vitamins C, D, E, K, and the B-complex, as well as choline and folic acid, are all great at changing your body at a cellular level, creating real glowing skin rather than the façade of health. These healthy and delicious foods also reduce your risk of skin and other cancers as well as protect against cardiovascular disease.
Skin is the body’s largest organ, so it makes sense that it responds as gratefully to nourishing food as any internal system. If you are looking to turn back the hands of time or rock a dewy glow that hides the fact that you have to spend all day in an office, improving your diet is the way to go. Following are amazing anti-aging foods that you are going to love eating.
Fat is a natural lubricant and we need it in our bodies to facilitate all sorts of processes. But the trick is that it has to be the right kind of fat. Avocados contain a lot of the healthy kind, which helps to keep skin flexible and moisturized. A study that examined the diets of over 700 women found that eating a lot of healthy fat, like that found in avocados, results in smoother skin with great elasticity.
Avocados also contain compounds that evidence suggests may protect your skin from damaging sun rays. When you spread some of the green stuff on toast or incorporate it into a vibrant salad, you also get a healthy dose of vitamin E and vitamin C. These nutrients make very fine partners in the creation of collagen and protect your skin from the oxidative damage that makes you look weathered.
2. Dark Chocolate
Improving your skin through diet does not have to feel like deprivation. You can have your chocolate and look great, too. Several studies have determined that cocoa powder is high in some specific antioxidants that contribute to moisturized skin. If you eat a bit of dark chocolate every day, you’ll find that your skin is less rough and scaly – and can resist sunburn longer, to boot. (But don’t throw away your sunscreen.)
Another benefit of eating cocoa is that it improves blood flow and thereby delivers more of those critical nutrients to the skin. But it’s best to stick with dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa. That will get you the healthy benefits without too much extra sugar. Too much sugar in the diet can actually break down collagen and cause breakouts.
3. Red Wine
Turns out, you can enjoy a glass of wine without guilt. Red wine contains resveratrol, a much-touted compound that minimizes the effects of aging all over your body. You may even notice that some beauty products designed to create a youthful appearance also contain resveratrol. It works whether applied topically or eaten.
When you consume resveratrol in the form of wine (or grape juice; it doesn’t have to be fermented), the production of free radicals is slowed. Free radical damage is one of the prime drivers of skin damage and premature aging. Now, we would be remiss if we didn’t say that overindulging in alcohol has many negatives associated with it, including poor skin. But if you are going to drink, red wine may be the safest choice for your complexion.
Tomatoes are delicious and so versatile that it’s hard to get bored with them. Whether fresh, cooked, or made into a sauce, tomatoes can be the shining star of a dish or deftly support other ingredients. When you enjoy tomatoes you receive a good amount of vitamin C, which will help prevent scaly skin.
But even better, tomatoes contain all of the major carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These powerful antioxidants protect skin from sun damage. More exciting still is that to fully absorb the carotenoids in your diet, they are best eaten with some kind of fat. Consider this your free pass to snack on a little avocado, cheese, olive oil, or nuts at the same time.
There is a lot in the news about how nuts in general, and walnuts in particular, contain an optimal ratio of essential fatty acids. Our bodies use these essential fatty acids as the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, and because we do not create them internally, we need to get our omega-3s and omega-6s from food. Another great source of EFAs is fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring.
We recommend walnuts for your EFAs because they also contain the skin-loving antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium, as well as 4–5 grams of protein per ounce. Because walnuts are high in fat as well, it’s best to stick to one ounce per serving, but that much is enough to net you 6% of the RDI for zinc. Zinc is known to support skin healing as well as fight bacteria and inflammation.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Beta carotene is a type of antioxidant from the carotenoid group that can actually protect your skin from sun damage, and sweet potatoes are a particularly rich source of it. You can’t necessarily skip using sunscreen if you are going to be outside for a significant amount of time, but a diet rich in beta carotene increases the time that you can spend in the sun without burning.
Sunburn is important to avoid, not only because it increases your risk of skin cancer, but because it results in cell death. That causes dry and wrinkly skin. If you need yet another reason to eat your sweet potatoes, that beta carotene can impart a warm, bronze tone to your skin without any sun exposure at all.
The key to achieving healthy skin through diet is to focus on plant-based foods with a small amount of lean meat, like fish, added in. Fruits, vegetables, and natural produce, especially the ones on our list, contain the highest levels of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vital nutrients to protect your precious skin. If you drink a lot of water as well, you can boost the positive effects even further. Follow our advice to achieve glowing skin that will make your friends green with envy!