Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain, and even damage organs, such as your heart and liver.
But what you eat also affects another organ — your skin.
As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it’s increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
- Fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They’re rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. In fact, an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin. The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Some studies show that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis and lupus.
Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for your skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
- Avocados – associated with more supple, springy skin. Preliminary evidence shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage.
Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
- Walnuts – they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier. It’s also necessary for wound healing and combating both bacteria and inflammation.
Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce.
- Sunflower seeds – One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
- Sweet potatoes – one 1/2-cup (100-gram) serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A. Also helps keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock, preventing sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
Interestingly, high amounts of beta carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier appearance.
- Red or yellow bell peppers – Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A.
They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
- Broccoli – full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C (for collagen production).
It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta carotene. Lutein helps protect your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled.
But broccoli florets also pack a special compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive potential benefits. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer.
Sulforaphane is likewise a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body.
- Tomatoes – a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling!
- Soy – contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body. One small study involving middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. These isoflavones not only help to protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may reduce the risk of some skin cancers.
- Dark chocolate – After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow — which brings more nutrients to your skin.
Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate
Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum!
- Green tea – help protect your skin from sun damage and aging. Green tea also improves the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of the skin.
While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk, as there’s evidence that milk could reduce the effect of green tea’s antioxidants!
- Red grapes – Resveratrol helps reduce the effects of aging by slowing the production of harmful free radicals.
This beneficial compound is also found in red wine. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to affect your skin.
What you eat can significantly affect your skin health.
Make sure you’re getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and attractive. Remember to drink enough water, as well!
Reference: HealthLine article