9 Foods for Glowing Healthy Skin
By Wen Liu • January 21, 2020
When it comes to skin health, most people think about putting things on your skin. But the real magic comes from within.
The best way to improve your skin is by eating the right foods.
Most people understand how important good nutrition is for their internal organs like their heart or stomach.
But they often forget about the largest human organ: the skin!
It’s more than just a barrier.
Our skin has many functions and our diets have a tremendous impact on skin health.
On the surface, a poor diet can lead to wrinkled and unhealthy-looking skin. But there are deeper problems too.
The long-term effects of a bad diet include premature aging and a higher risk of skin cancer.
The effects on our appearance alone are enough to warrant action.
The Impact of Diet on Skin Health
Most people’s intuition is to use makeup to improve and restore their appearance.
But that mostly ends up treating symptoms.
It's like putting a band-aid on a cut.
It doesn't help you heal faster, it only covers up the problem.
If you want to create lasting change that’s good for your skin, you have to start from within.
Eating the wrong foods can exacerbate certain skin disorders.
In fact, sometimes foods can even cause them to appear.
You must fix the root cause of the problem.
Acne is a good example of a skin condition that has links to dietary choices.
There are no definitive rules about what to eat and what not to. Different people will react differently to foods.
So, it may be worth examining your diet if you have a long-standing skin condition.
Oily skin is another example. Some spicy foods seem to cause an increase in skin oil secretions.
There’s also some truth to the old folk wisdom that chocolate causes acne.
That’s not exactly how it works but there is a correlation. Sweets and carbs are to blame. Eating a lot of carbs can spike insulin levels, which increases the production of skin oils.
Oily skin then contributes to the appearance of acne. So, it’s not the cocoa but the sugar in chocolate that’s to blame. If you really want your chocolate fix, choose sugar-free dark chocolate for a skin-healthy treat.
Sugars like to attach to fats and proteins in the process of glycation. They bind to collagen in our bodies in this way and cause premature aging of the skin.
Glycation accelerates the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin as well.
Healthy collagen levels are key to good skin care. It's our most abundant protein and it’s the building block of many tissues, including the skin.
Even foods that you think are healthy can sometimes cause problems.
Allergies are often most apparent by their effect on the skin. Systematically removing foods from your diet is a good way to test this. It will take time and determination but you could reap significant long-term benefits.
Below you’ll find some of the best foods to promote skin health.
9 Foods That Make Your Skin Look Great
1 - Avocados
Avocados are a hugely beneficial food. They’re a source of good fats and benefit your whole body, not just the skin.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E. It’s an important vitamin that protects skin from oxidative damage. It’s also a vitamin that many people fail to get enough of through their diet.
Vitamin E is especially effective in the presence of Vitamin C, another important skin nutrient. One-half of a typical avocado provides 10% of your daily intake of vitamin E and 17% of vitamin C.
Some studies found that avocados contain compounds that protect the skin from sun damage as well. Damage from UV rays is a big contributor to skin wrinkles.
2 - Nuts
Zinc is a vital nutrient for skin health.
It’s an element that helps regulate the function of oil glands in the skin. It also acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radical damage to skin cells.
Severe or chronic acne can sometimes indicate a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is also an important mineral in the creation of collagen. And it serves as an anti-inflammatory agent and astringent.
The wide array of roles it plays both in the skin and overall health makes zinc-rich foods an important part of any diet.
Fish and lean red meats are excellent sources of zinc. For plant-based diets, nuts and seeds offer a great way to get enough zinc.
3 - Fatty Fish
Fish, and in particular fatty fish, are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids for they have to come from our diet rather than our body.
They help regulate oil production in the skin and keep it moisturized. This, in turn, can reduce the effects of both acne and aging.
They also have anti-inflammatory effects that protect the skin from UV damage. There are many supplements on the market for omega-3s but the best way to get more is through fatty fish. Mackerel, salmon, and herring are all good choices with high levels of omega-3s.
4 - Tomatoes
Tomatoes are not only delicious, but they’re also packed with skin-nourishing compounds. Tomatoes contain a lot of vitamin C and carotenoids. Carotenoids are the compounds that give plants their orange and red colors.
The three important ones for the skin are beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein. The benefits probably come from their antioxidant qualities. In studies, they’ve been highly effective in protecting the skin from sun damage.
Fruits and vegetables are great for overall skin health but tomatoes are especially powerful. Fats aid in absorbing carotenoids, so consider pairing tomatoes with sources of healthy fats.
5 - Broccoli
Broccoli is another good source of lutein, one of the big carotenoids. Moreover, it contains vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin A. All of those have important roles in skin health.
Broccoli also has something that you don’t find that easily, sulforaphane. This compound is extremely protective of the skin against sun damage. In testing, it reduced UV damage to skin cells by as much as 29%.
Some evidence also shows that it may increase the collagen levels in the skin. You can think of collagen as the glue that keeps your skin together. Higher levels are beneficial for the skin’s appearance and health.
6 - Colorful Fruits
The more color you can get in your diet, the better it will be for your skin.
This mostly applies to fruits and vegetables.
The key benefit is that they’re packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are the compounds most directly involved in protecting the skin.
They’re also a good source of energy and fiber.
All around us are molecules that deteriorate the skin. They’re called free radicals as a whole. These free radicals bind to collagen and hurt the skin’s elasticity.
Antioxidants have many health benefits. Among those is the ability to neutralize the effects of free radicals on the skin, promoting healthy collagen levels.
7 - Collagen Peptides
Another key part of skin health is collagen. Collagen is one of the building blocks of skin and it’s important to get enough of it.
Collagen Peptides are an excellent supplement for maintaining healthy levels of collagen.
Some people, such as Shelly, see very fast results from collagen supplements. After using a collagen supplement for only four weeks, she saw improvements in skin and nail appearance.
Clearer skin is a typical effect of reversing a low-collagen diet.
8 - Leafy Greens
One of the most powerful antioxidants is vitamin A and one of the best sources is leafy greens.
Vitamin A is an active ingredient in many skin care products too. Getting enough of it is essential for good skin health.
Leafy greens also have healthy doses of vitamin C, which is very important in reducing damage to collagen from UV rays. Also, it promotes the production of collagen in our bodies.
9 - Matcha Green Tea
Like other antioxidant-rich foods, green tea protects the skin from various kinds of damage.
However, it also contains catechins. Catechins and their metabolites greatly protect the skin from sun exposure.
In one study, participants who drank green tea every day experienced a 25% reduced redness from sun exposure.
If you like tea, matcha green tea is known as the king of teas.
It’s specially grown to be powdered after the harvest.
This process maximizes the nutritional and antioxidant benefits more than regular green tea. One study showed that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants.
Glowing Healthy Skin Depends On Your Diet
Our skin is constantly exposed to potentially damaging toxins in the environment.
Keeping it healthy and strong takes a diverse diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats.
Fruits and vegetables can provide antioxidants while fish and nuts are great sources of fats. And collagen can help fill in the missing gaps.
Make sure you eat a variety of these nine superfoods for the most skin-boosting benefits.