10 Foods for Healthy Skin
Ten foods that protect skin from the damaging and aging effects of the sun.
Foods to Improve Your Skin
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Skin is the body’s largest—and most visible—organ, so it’s important to keep it as healthy as possible. Here are some foods that do a superior job of protecting skin from the damaging and aging effects of the sun, while promoting a healthy glow.
Loaded with the unique polyphenol antioxidant EGCG, green tea provides protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Whether you apply it directly to the skin or enjoy it as a beverage, green tea’s antioxidants work to prevent DNA damage and help repair existing damage. Drinking tea also ensures adequate hydration, another key to youthful skin.
Low-fat dairy—especially low-fat yogurt—is a great food source for vitamin A, a vital nutrient for maintaining vibrant skin. Vitamin A helps the body produce collagen, an important protein that’s partly responsible for skin’s youthful elasticity. It also helps protect against collagen deterioration.
Fish is an excellent source of lean protein. Cold water fish species like tuna, swordfish, or salmon are superb sources of natural omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients work to quell inflammation and promote a healthy immune system.
New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows omega-3 fatty acids in a diet can help fight the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation on sun-exposed skin. As a bonus, wild salmon contains a potent antioxidant pigment called astaxanthin, which may fight wrinkles and sagging.
Nuts may be high in fats, but they’re the good fats: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which promote a healthy circulatory system. Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium, an essential mineral that’s crucial for proper immune system function. These rainforest nuts are also rich in skin-friendly antioxidants like vitamin E, and have been shown to improve skin’s circulation, yielding a healthier glow.
Once upon a time, people believed that chocolate caused adolescent acne. This myth has since been expelled, and high-quality dark chocolate, brimming with potent flavonoid antioxidants, is now hailed as a superfood superstar.
Research cited in the European Journal of Nutrition and the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology suggests that dark chocolate not only protects the heart and blood vessels, but also protects the skin from sun damage. When applied directly to the skin, natural cocoa butter is an excellent emollient that preserves skin’s elasticity and moisture.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, color usually signals the presence of highly beneficial natural pigments with potent antioxidant properties. Berries are a prime example.
Bursting with flavor and color, black raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and blackberries are packed with cancer-fighting, disease-preventing antioxidants in high concentrations. These super foods help replenish the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses, while mopping up dangerous free radicals produced by ultraviolet radiation’s assault on skin.
Unlike refined flour or polished white rice, whole grains offer far more than simple carbohydrates. The fiber in whole grains is great for the digestive tract, but whole grains are also an excellent source of skin-friendly B vitamins like folate, niacin, and micronutrients like zinc and magnesium. Zinc is especially important for skin’s immune defenses.
Turmeric is the spice that lends canary yellow color to commercially prepared mustards and puts the earthy zing in curry dishes. Turmeric is also the source of some surprisingly potent chemicals collectively known as curcumin. Exciting ongoing research published in Clinical Cancer Research shows that curcumin might work to thwart the progression of an increasingly common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma. Curcumin also reduces inflammation and works as an antioxidant to reduce skin damage.
Most people associate vitamin C with citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. But ounce for ounce, kiwi is an even more potent source of this crucial antioxidant. Vitamin C is essential for maintaining connective tissue—a diet that lacks vitamin C can cause scurvy. Although no longer common, this dreaded disease was once the bane of sailors who suffered the disfiguring effects of vitamin C deprivation. Kiwi, papaya, and guava are all excellent sources of collagen-sparing vitamin C.
Olives and Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a nutritional superstar. Praised for its heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, it also contains unique antioxidant phytochemicals, or chemicals found naturally in plants that may improve your health.
While scientists are still investigating the numerous benefits of olives and extra virgin olive oil, residents of the Mediterranean region have been enjoying the benefits of this skin-friendly oil for centuries. Enjoy it in food or apply directly to the skin for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
Super foods for improved skin can help prevent skin cancer, protect against sun damage, promote healing, and maintain healthy function and appearance. To maintain your skin’s youthful vigor and healthful glow, avoid refined carbohydrates and eat a variety of fresh, whole foods. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water daily.
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