The saying goes "we are what we eat" and after someone made a comment that my hands were looking a tad bit orange lately (I have an affinity for carrots), I'm beginning to think that's more true than ever (and yes, I've cut down on my carrot consumption!) Whether you're looking to protect your skin from the sun, prevent wrinkles, fight acne, or improve the texture of dry skin, what you choose to put in your body can have a tremendous impact on skin health. Here's a look at what you might want to reach for at mealtime.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna, you can also get a dose of this healthy fat from olive oil, flax seeds, walnuts, and tofu. Eating Omega-3-rich foods will not only help skin retain moisture (essential for fighting dry skin and decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines), but they contain protective monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer when consumed in place of saturated fats.
If it’s oily skin and acne that you're plagued with, try zinc-rich foods like oysters and lean meats. Zinc-rich foods have been shown to reduce oil production and help heal minor cuts and scrapes.
Vitamin C and E
Turn to citrus fruits (think oranges and grapefruits), for Vitamin C, which will not only help prevent immune deficiencies like colds, but have been shown to help fight wrinkles. Combine the Vitamin C with Vitamin E (found in avocados and almonds), and the combined antioxidant effect will also help protect skin from sun damage as the two vitamins work together to aid in preventing and repairing cell damage.
Popular in beauty products for its anti-aging benefits, Vitamin A will have the most effect on skin when eaten in the form of leafy dark greens like spinach and kale.
We’ve long heard that dark chocolate can be good for our health. Among the benefits of eating the cocoa goodness is that it contains flavonoids, which studies have shown can decrease sensitivity to the sun and increase blood flow to skin to help improve texture. Aside from dark chocolate, flavonoids can also be found in berries, bananas, citrus fruits, dill, broccoli, and pistachios.
Found in carrots, kale, spinach, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, and apricots, carotenoids decrease skin’s sensitivity to the sun and reduce skin redness.
Tea and Coffee
Teas have been used for centuries for their healing properties and green tea specifically is often singled out for its anti-inflammatory properties. As for coffee, studies have shown that the alkaloids it contains (also found in green tea) help rid the body of damaged cells.
When given the choice, always opt for whole grains over refined carbohydrates. Lower on the glycemic index, whole grains are higher in fiber, can help reduce blemishes, and won’t cause an insulin level spike like you’ll find with refined carbohydrates, keeping you fuller, longer.
Sulfur is key in repairing tissues and elasticity in skin, making it essential for smooth skin. Foods like eggs and garlic are particularly good sources of sulfur.