I always find it funny how accurate the old cliché “You are what you eat” is. If I opt for a burger over a healthy meal, I can feel it in every breath I take. If I eat junk food two days in a row, my skin shows it. I get blotchy, pimply and greasy on top of feeling sluggish and maybe a bit gassy.

Whether you want brighter, firmer, younger or more even skin, the right products and a good diet can help you get there. Let’s take a look at a ton of foods that benefit skin, and why they’re so super.

Salmon

This king fish goes at the very top of the list because it’s so good in so many ways. Broiled, baked, smoked and grilled, yes, but also because it’s good for your skin, your eyes, your heart and your diet. Salmon is a reliable source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. Inflammation not only causes digestive discomfort, but also contributes to a harsher skin appearance. While the omega-3s are battling the aging process by combating inflammation, they’re also allowing cells to hold more moisture—which results in softer, less blotchy skin—and the fish’s vitamin D helps produces compounds that protect against skin infections. Win-win-win!

Kiwi

When looking for a fruit high in vitamin C, skip the orange and head straight for the brown. Kiwis pack almost 120 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C in every single furry fruit! A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that higher intakes of the nutrient were associated with less dryness and less noticeable wrinkles. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis, which smooths fine lines and keeps skin taught.

Flaxseed Oil

Make this your go-to superfood if you’re battling red or dry skin. Flax is abundant in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help skin retain moisture, limiting roughness and dryness. The British Journal of Nutrition published an investigation that determined that flaxseed oil consumption can reduce skin reddening. Try drizzling it on top of your favorite yogurt snack. Which brings us to …

Yogurt

While dairy can be a main cause of inflammation, Greek yogurt can be pretty beneficial to any diet. The protein found in yogurt—which helps skin become firmer and more resistant to lines—is often doubled in the Greek variety. All it takes is a single serving a day to smooth your complexion.

Brazil Nuts

This giant-sized nut is an excellent source of selenium. According to research from scientists in Australia, blood with high levels of the mineral were associated with a 60 percent decrease in skin cancer incidents. It’s believed that selenium works as an antioxidant, protecting against skin damage caused by exposure to the sun.

Butternut Squash

This fall and winter staple gourd is a good source of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that may improve skin tone by reducing skin cell damage, resulting in more luminous skin.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

A 2008 UK study found that people who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily (along with almost a tablespoon of olive oil) for 12 weeks had 33 percent more protection from sunburn than a control group that only had olive oil. Cooked, processed tomatoes contain higher levels of lycopene which improves skin’s natural SPF. (This is not a substitute for applying sunscreen every day!)

Olive Oil

Start using this as a butter substitute as soon as possible! A 2012 study in PLOS ONE found that women who consumed at least two teaspoons a day of olive oil showed 31% fewer signs of aging, compared with women who had only one teaspoon. The study also tested sunflower and peanut oils, but they paled in comparison; about 75 percent of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids, which may assist with a youthful appearance. Also, the antioxidant polyphenols in olive oil could fight damaging free radicals. Need more reasons? How about …

Dark Chocolate

While milk and white chocolates can cause inflammation, dark chocolate is rich in cocoa flavanols, which help hydrate skin and improve circulation. In a study, women who consumed 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for 12 weeks experienced less skin roughness and scaliness. But, that’s a lot of calories. Consuming just one ounce daily can help you get the benefits without gaining weight.

Kale

Disgusting as it may be, it’s one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients absorb and neutralize UV-created free radicals, even those that pass through sunscreen and reach your skin. Just one cup a day can give you more than 130 percent of your daily requirements for skin-firming vitamins A and C.

Orange Peel

People who eat fruit peelings (like orange peel or lemon zest) have 33 percent lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma, according to research from the University of Arizona. Peels are rich in limonene—which isn’t present in the fruits themselves—that offers UV-protective benefits.

Grass-fed Beef

Beef itself is a great source of protein, packing nearly 30 grams per 3.5 ounces, but grass-fed beef is even better because it contains a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. The fatty acids reduce inflammation, while protein is the cornerstone of collagen and elastin tissue. Both collagen and elastin tissue help keep skin taut and less wrinkled. For optimum all-over health results, stick to lean cuts like sirloin and flank steak.
Rosemary

Rosemary

While it’s a great garnish, we like our Rosemary protecting our skin. A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that consuming four or more herbs regularly, like rosemary and thyme, was associated with a 60 percent reduced risk of melanoma. Herbs are bursting with antioxidants—and great scents—that squelch free radicals from the sun before they can damage skin.

Oysters

These slimy little sea creatures are arguably the best dietary source of zinc; just six of them provide more than 500 percent of your daily requirement (and only cost 57 calories). Zinc is essential for the growth and function of skin cells, and studies have suggested that acne sufferers have zinc deficiencies.

Eggs

Here we are with the protein again, but this time, it’s more about the fat. Or lack thereof. Eggs are a great source of protein without the fat that often accompanies it. Higher fat diets may contribute to the aging of skin, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a 17-gram fat intake increase also increases your chances of forming wrinkles by 28 percent.

Mackerel

This fish is one of the best sources of vitamin B12, with 270 percent of your daily requirement. A B12 deficiency can result in hyperpigmentation and vitiligo (dark and white spots, respectively). Getting enough B12 every day can help even out your skin tone.

Pomegranates

Greek mythology aside, this superfood basically has magical powers. Pomegranates are packed with polyphenol antioxidants which fight free radicals and regulate skin’s blood flow, making it appear naturally rosy. When applied to the skin, the antioxidants also moisturize and help smooth lines.

Bell Peppers

Or, really any green and yellow veggies. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition determined that people who eat up to 250 grams (one large pepper is about 190 grams) of green and yellow vegetables regularly had fewer wrinkles, especially around the eyes, than those who ate about 70 grams a day. Yellow peppers pack an extra punch because they contain carotenoids which can decrease the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Soy

You can thank your soy latte for your clear complexion. One cup of soy a day can reduce dark spots and fine lines, and improve skin elasticity. The minerals and proteins in soy help with the hyperpigmentation, while the aglycone can keep collagen from breaking down.

Sunflower Seeds

Baseball players may be doing more for their skin than they realize with this dugout favorite. Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E to keep your skin supple and pimple-free, and protect its top layers from the sun. Sunflower seed oil is also great because its high essential-fatty-acid content helps dried out body parts like lips and heels. Vitamin E also enhances immune function, helping your body fight off the inflammation that leads to acne.

 

What are your favorite superfoods?

5 Comments

    1. Hey Andrea! Great question – and a great solution! Smoothies are a great way to eat orange peels if you can’t stomach actually eating them. You can also reap the benefits of orange peel by testing it into your favorite meals or desserts.

      Like

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