It’s no secret that the food we eat helps keep us healthy. We have known for years that certain vitamins and minerals, found in the food we eat, help keep our bodies healthy and running at peak performance. What is new is just how much those foods influence more than just our physical health, but our emotional wellbeing and our physical appearance as well.
It is becoming clearer that the food we consume has a major impact on the appearance of our skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and taking care of it is super important. There are certain nutrients that we need to ingest to help keep our skin in tip top shape. Therefore, it makes sense to include foods rich in those nutrients to help keep our skin healthy and looking youthful.
Yet, what are those foods? Are there some that are better than others at protecting our skin and keeping it healthy? What are the nutrients we need to be taking into our bodies in order to have healthy skin?
There are many foods that provide the nutrients which help keep our skin healthy and there are 12 that do it the best, which will be explored in detail. However, let’s take a much closer look at what nutrients our skin needs in order to be healthy and the benefits the main benefits of each on our skin.
The nutrients our skin needs
There are a few different vitamins, minerals, as well as antioxidants and other nutrients skin needs in order to be healthy and look youthful:
- Omega-3 fatty acids-Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of our diet. They provide many health benefits, including keeping our skin looking young and supple. It reduces inflammation as well as make you skin less susceptible to the sun’s rays.
- Protein– Protein is important for maintaining skin’s strength and integrity.
- Zinc-This mineral found in many foods. Zinc helps reduce inflammation, is good for overall skin health, and promotes the production of new skin cells. A Zinc deficiency can lead to skin lesions and delayed wound healing.
- Vitamin E- Vitamin E is the most important vitamin for your skin. An antioxidant, it helps prevent damage caused by free radicals and helps prevent inflammation.
- Vitamin C- Vitamin C is the antioxidant responsible for producing collagen, which helps keep your skin supple. Vitamin C also protects your skin from oxidative damage, from the sun as well as your environment, helping reduce the signs of aging.
- Sulforaphane- This special compound is found in broccoli and according to studies has some amazing skin benefits. It may have anti-cancer effects, which includes some types of skin cancer. In some studies, sulforaphane has been linked to a powerful protective agent against the sun. It seems to neutralise free radicals as well as switch on other protective systems within our bodies. Not only that, in a study, sulforaphane has been shown to reduce the amount of skin cells killed by UV light by as much as 29%! As if this wasn’t enough, there is also evidence that suggests sulforaphane maintains collagen levels, boosting our skin’s youthfulness.
- Carotenoids- Carotenoids are antioxidants and there are a few that are important for healthy skin. Lutein, Lycopene, and Beta carotene act like natural sunblock for our skin, preventing sun damage. They have also been shown to help with the prevention of wrinkles.
- Isoflavones- There has been some small studies that isoflavones reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and help improve your skin’s elasticity.
- Healthy fats- Healthy fats are important for keeping your skin moisturised as well as flexible. Healthy fats can also aid the absorption of other key skin-healthy antioxidants.
These are the key nutrients that we need to eat regularly in order to have healthy, youthful skin. Some of these key nutrients work better in pairs or with other important nutrients. Vitamin E, for instance, seemingly works better when combined with Vitamin C, so it makes sense to try and find foods rich in both. Carotenoids also work better with healthy fats. They are absorbed better by our bodies, so combining veggies rich in carotenoids with say, olive oil or sunflower oil is to your benefit as well.
It’s amazing that there are so many nutrients that help keep our skin so healthy and looking young. So, now what foods are the best sources for these nutrients? Below are the 12 best foods to eat to keep your skin glowing and healthy.
Broccoli has long since been considered a super food of the vegetable family. Due to the sheer number of skin-helping vitamins, minerals and compounds, makes this green vegetable the easy top food candidate on our list. If you want healthy skin, then you should be eating your broccoli.
It has one of the highest number of vitamins and minerals of any vegetable. It’s a great source of vitamins A and C, both important for skin health, as well as zinc, the carotenoid, lutein, which helps prevent oxidative damage to your skin. It also contains that magical skin loving compound, sulforaphane, which provides the skin with so much help as previously mentioned. There is evidence which suggests that sulforaphane, which is found in this tasty vegetable can maintain collagen levels, as well as many other positive benefits. Not to mention it has some cancer preventing benefits as well. If you want healthy skin, then you need to incorporate broccoli in your diet.
Fatty fish are number two on our list because not only do they help reduce cholesterol, and therefore heart complications with their omega-3 fatty acids, these omega-3 fatty acids also play an important role in the healthy maintenance of your skin too. It makes sense to include foods that can have multiple health benefits on our bodies, which is why fatty fish take the number two spot.
Not only do fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, but they are also an incredible source of vitamin E, protein, which is essential for maintaining your skin’s strength, as well as a good source of Zinc.
There have been studies conducted which show that taking fish oil supplements may help fight autoimmune conditions that affect the skin, such as psoriasis and lupus.
Avocados take the number three spot on our list, due to being another super food that contains a lot of skin-healthy nutrients. They are an excellent source of healthy fats, which help with the absorption of other nutrients your skin needs to maintain optimum health. In a study of over 700 women who ate a diet high in healthy fats, like those fats found in avocados, this high fat intake was associated with more supple and springy skin.
There is also early evidence which shows that avocados contain compounds that may help prevent and protect your skin from sun damage.
They are a good source of vitamin C, which is used by your skin to produce collagen, the main structural protein, which keeps your skin strong and healthy. Avocados are also high in vitamin E.
It’s not just foods you should eat, there is also a drink you can have that helps keep your skin healthy and looking great. We all know that drinking plenty of water helps keep skin hydrated, as well as the rest of your body. And we all know that too much sugar is bad for our skin. But did you know that drinking green tea has positive benefits on our skin? Well, this tea is high in antioxidants that help keep skin looking young and healthy.
There are compounds in green tea called catechins, which help our skin in many ways. Like most antioxidant-containing food, green tea can help reduce the havoc caused by the sun’s rays on our skin.
In one study conducted with 60 women, they found that drinking green tea daily reduced redness of the skin caused by the sun by as much as 25%.
Adding green tea to your diet is a good idea, but if you do, skip the milk, which has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of green tea’s antioxidants.
Nuts make number five on this list, particularly almonds and walnuts. Both almonds and walnuts pack skin loving nutrients which will help keep your skin looking its best and in tip top shape.
American diets have an overabundance in omega-6 fatty acid which can wreak havoc on the skin and cause inflammation. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acid sources are rare in Western diets.
Walnuts have a good ratio of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids which may help fight off inflammation caused by excessive omega-6 fatty acid intake, including inflammation in your skin.
Walnuts are also a great source of zinc, providing 8% of your daily value for this important mineral of your skin.
Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, which helps bolsters your skin’s defence against the skin cancer, as well as ridding the body of free radicals, which cause damage to your skin. In studies, it’s been shown that when we ingest vitamin E orally, the levels of this vitamin’s presence on the skin’s surface increase as well. This is good news for those people with dry skin.
Bell peppers, particularly red peppers, are known to be one of the best sources of vitamin C, providing a whopping 211% of your daily value in one serving. Red peppers also are a great source of Beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, which is great for your skin as well as your eyes.
A large observational study involving women has linked a diet high in vitamin C leads to a reduce risk of dry and wrinkled skin later in life, making peppers an even number 6 on our list of top foods to eat for healthy skin.
We know sugar is bad, and can lead to skin problems, including cellulite. However, dark chocolate is healthy for your skin. Healthier still if you avoid eating lower than 70% cocoa. Cocoa is naturally high in antioxidants, which help increase the thickness and hydration levels of your skin.
A study has linked eating 20 grams of high antioxidant dark chocolate daily might allow your skin to withstand over twice the amount of exposure to UV radiation before burning as compared to eating low antioxidant chocolate.
While there have been several other studies, that have found varying skin health benefits of dark chocolate, it is important to note that there has been at least one that has found no significant effects of dark chocolate on overall skin health and youthfulness.
Tomatoes are number 8 on our list. They are another superfood, high in the antioxidant lycopene, as well as all the other carotenoids. They are also a good source of vitamin C. As we discussed early in this article, carotenoids prevent aging of our skin, including possibly preventing wrinkling.
Because carotenoids are better absorbed with healthy fats, pairing tomatoes with healthy oils, like olive oil, is a great way to eat them to obtain maximum benefit for your skin.
For another great source of Beta carotene, look no further than the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are great sources of this skin- helping antioxidant. In fact, a half cup of baked sweet potato provides more than 6 times the daily value amount of vitamin A you need. That’s a lot!
Carotenoids act as a natural sunblock for your skin, which helps prevent wrinkling, skin damage, cell death, and dry skin. When consumed, this antioxidant gets incorporated into the skin, shielding it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Also, eating a high amount of beta carotene can cause an orangey glow to your skin, making your skin look healthier.
Kidney beans are rich in protein, which is necessary for keeping your skin strong, and zinc, which helps fight acne, as well as reduce inflammation. These beans are a staple in many chili recipes, which also feature tomatoes and peppers, other great sources of skin healthy nutrients.
Kale has become a bit of trendy leaf to eat in recent years. It is rich in certain nutrients that help keep skin healthy and happy too, so it’s worth adding it to your diet.
Kale is a good source of vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin cell turnover. Retin-A, an acne medication, uses vitamin A as a main ingredient.
According to some old wives tales, if you apply kale topically, it helps reduce the appearance of bruises, stretch marks, scars, and spider veins.
The last food on our top 12 list is red grapes. Red grape skin contains resveratrol, which can also be found in red wine. Resveratrol has been linked to many health benefits, including the signs of ageing, meaning keeping your skin looking young. Resveratrol, according to some test tube studies, seemingly slows the production of harmful free radicals, which can cause wrinkles and other signs of ageing skin. Red grapes are an excellent source of this age defying compound. Red grapes are used in the production of red wine. However, there is not enough of this compound in a glass of red wine and drinking in excess has some negative effects on our health. So, eating red grapes and berries is recommended instead.
There is no doubt that our diet plays a pivotal role in our health. What we consume plays an important role in all aspects of our health, including maintaining the health of our skin. There are many nutrients that provide skin boosting benefits as well as a variety of foods that have these nutrients in them.
There is a wide variety of different vitamins, minerals and compounds that all work together to help keep our skin looking youthful and healthy. Vitamins A, C, E as well as carotenoids lutein, lycopene, sulforaphane and isoflavones all work to help keep our bodies and our skin healthy and young. They provide natural sunlight defence, reducing and getting rid of free radical which damage our skin, and even prevent fine lines and wrinkles from forming. Not only that but they also keep our skin strong and well hydrated.
These top 12 foods to eat for maintaining healthy skin are the best at providing great natural skin care as well as a multitude of other health benefits, including a health heart and protecting other organs, like our eyes and brain. Not only do they provide a skin benefit, but they also contribute to having good mental and emotional wellbeing too. Eating a well-balanced diet, one that takes care of our skin too, must and should include some of these top 12 foods, certainly broccoli and fatty fish, our top contenders, as they provide the most benefits for your overall health and your skin.