Besides sun exposure, the main culprit for skin damage and premature aging is something called advanced glycation end products, aka AGEs. These AGEs (appropriate name, huh?) are formed when fat or protein combines with sugar in our bloodstream.

The good news? This means our diet can also be a powerful tool in fighting the aging process and helping our bodies protect our skin.

So we’re not saying to never eat fries (we wouldn’t dare), but it’s all about finding a good balance of whole, nutritious foods.

Check out our 5 favorite foods when it comes to smart swaps for healthier skin.

French fries may be tasty, but they aren’t exactly the best choice when it comes to healthy skin — as both fried foods and salt can be harmful for the body in the long-term.

Foods fried in oil at high temperatures release free radicals, which can speed up the aging process and cause cellular damage to the skin.

Instead of regular old fries, reach for oven-baked sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes are rich in anti-aging copper which aids in the production of collagen. Did we mention they’re delicious, too?

Just take it easy on the salt, as excess salt can dehydrate the skin and make it more prone to wrinkling.

Processed meats — like hot dogs, bacon, or pepperoni — often contain very high amounts of sodium, sulfites, and saturated fat. All of these have been shown to dehydrate the skin and cause inflammation.

Leaner swaps like grilled chicken and baked turkey are packed with amino acids that are important to the natural formation of collagen. They’re also a delicious source of lean protein, which will keep you satiated all day long.

Plus, BBQ chicken burgers or turkey-stuffed zucchini pizza? We dig it.

Margarine is a processed spread that looks and tastes like butter, but is made from vegetable oils and marketed as a heart-healthy alternative.

However, it’s often high in trans fats. One study on rats found that an increased intake of trans fatty acids from the kinds of vegetable oils used in margarine can make skin more vulnerable to UV radiation, which can damage collagen and elasticity.

For a healthy skin swap, try using avocado or olive oil in its place. You can spread these on a sandwich or use them to top toast or a baked potato — the possibilities are endless, and you’ll reap the benefits from their anti-aging antioxidants.

Consuming too much sugar, especially added sugars, can lead to a number of health issues. But the sweet stuff can also really accelerate the aging process of skin by damaging collagen.

When craving that after-dinner dessert, try satisfying your sweet tooth with fresh fruit and yogurt (preferably Greek, which is higher in protein) drizzled with honey.

Bonus points if you add blueberries, which are packed with antioxidants and have been shown to prevent the loss of collagen.

Nix the refined and processed carbs if radiant skin is your goal. Researchers have found a potential link between spikes in blood sugar — which refined carbs can cause — to higher AGE levels in the body.

Instead, reach for antioxidant-rich sprouted grain breads that contain no added sugars. They’re hearty and make a filling addition to your breakfast or lunches. Your skin will thank you.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.