You might be familiar with the phrase “You are what you eat.” Technically, I would say that phrase is not 100% valid, but what I can say is that what you eat can play a major role in how your skin looks overall. The foods and nutrients we choose on a regular basis may help with anti-aging, improved skin tone and elasticity, and protect against skin damage.
Here are eight foods I would suggest you start enjoying on a regular basis:
Almonds are a good source of fatty acids and antioxidants, including vitamin E.
“Under photographic analysis, the almond group had significantly decreased wrinkle severity and width compared with the control group at 16 weeks,” according to a preliminary study by the University of California–Davis Dermatology Clinic, which demonstrated that daily almond consumption of around 2 ounces, may reduce wrinkle severity in postmenopausal females and offer other anti-aging benefits.
Almonds can be enjoyed as a midday snack, tossed into salads, sauteed with green beans, or even ground into a flour and used as a breading for fish or chicken cutlets.
The omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish have been found to improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation are patches of skin that are darker than surrounding areas. Also, omega-3 fatty acids are believed to stifle your body’s response to irritation and attract water to skin cells to plump up the skin and reduce wrinkles.
The easiest way to enjoy this benefit is to simply rub some olive oil, fresh lemon, ground pepper, and a little salt on a piece of salmon and then grill or broil it. Or one can even buy canned wild Alaskan salmon, which is known to be sustainable. Then, mix with egg and breadcrumbs to make delicious salmon cakes.
One cup of strawberries contains 108% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to collagen production, and the more collagen you have, the firmer your face may be. Vitamin C can also help repair and maintain DNA, basically bolstering cells’ ability to renew.
Blend up some strawberries in your morning smoothie, slice over peanut butter toast versus jam, and/or mixed with cottage cheese, yogurt, or dairy-free yogurt alternatives.
Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, is known to maintain and repair skin cells, fight free radical damage that can prematurely age the skin, and reduce the development of skin cancer cells. A vitamin A deficiency may result in a dry, flaky complexion. A medium-sized sweet potato packs around twice a man’s daily requirement of vitamin A and three times a woman’s.
There are many ways to enjoy this nutritious spud, such as sliced and roasted as “fries,” pureed into a soup, or simply baked and topped with Greek yogurt and scallions.
Canned light tuna is a good source of selenium, which research has shown protects the skin from UV irradiation-induced oxidative stress. Selenium also has been shown to help preserve elastin, a protein found in our connective tissue that may keep your skin smooth and tight.
Canned tuna can be tossed into a pasta, bean, or simple green salad, or mixed with mayo, red onion, and celery and enjoyed on whole wheat toast.
Zinc, another powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, can be found in chickpeas and other legumes. Studies have found that a zinc deficiency may affect sebum production, which is vital to our skin’s health, and contribute to skin breakouts at any age.
Chickpeas are tasty roasted with olive oil for a crunchy snack, mashed with avocado for an exciting twist on avocado toast, or tossed in pasta sauce, salads, or soup.
Lycopene, a phytochemical found in tomatoes, may help eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. As nutrient-rich as raw tomatoes are, canned or cooked tomato products are actually higher in lycopene. Canned tomatoes can be easily used in sauces and soups and are especially handy when tomatoes aren’t in season.
Not that we ever need an excuse to eat dark chocolate, but the flavanols found in dark chocolate may help reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralizing the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin. One study found that regular cocoa flavanol consumption also had a positive effect on facial wrinkles and elasticity. Please remember though that even with these possible skin benefits, one shouldn’t exceed the recommended serving size of 1 ounce per day.
About the Author
Keri Gans is a NYC-based registered dietitian nutritionist, certified yoga teacher, and author of “The Small Change Diet.” Gans is a sought-after nutrition expert and has conducted thousands of interviews worldwide. The Keri Report, her own bi-monthly podcast and newsletter, helps to convey her no-nonsense and fun approach to living a healthy lifestyle.