Skin care isn’t just about what products you use. There is more and more research to suggest that your diet can have a real impact on your skin health. So what foods are good for your skin? Read on to find out.
Best Vitamins and Nutrients For Your Skin
Before we get into the specific foods, it is good for you to understand what come of the best vitamins and nutrients are for good skin:
Antioxidants are important because they will help to protect your cells against free radicals. These are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative damage to your cells and tissues.
Free radicals are ‘unstable’ because they are missing an electron and Antioxidants neutralize them by essentially hunting them down and donating an electron to them.
The good news is that there are many amazing foods that can help you to stock up on helpful antioxidants (more of this later). Examples of beneficial antioxidants naturally occurring in food include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Green Tea Extract
- Coenzyme Q10
Vitamin A is also referred to as retinol. It’s an antioxidant, but it also has other great skin benefits. These include:
- helping to speed up healing
- promoting hydration
- supporting the health of the top two layers of your skin (dermis and epidermis)
- supporting collagen production
- promoting keratin synthesis
Vitamin B3 is also known as Niacin and has two main chemical forms – niacinamide and nicotinic acid. Niacinamide in particular is a very popular ingredient in the world of skincare. It’s benefits include:
- Protecting against sun damage
- Helping skin to retain moisture
- Regulating the amount of oil your glands produce
- Helping to build keratin
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing fine lines and wrinkles
- Helping to treat some forms of acne
Vitamin C is another antioxidant and probably the most widely recognized skin vitamin. The main reason for this is due to it’s amazing ability to help your body create collagen – a protein that can help prevent your skin sagging and help it to look more youthful.
Consuming the right amount of vitamin C can also prevent wrinkles and dry skin for some people. Your body does not naturally store vitamin C however, so if you want great skin then you need to make it a staple part of your diet to keep it topped up regularly.
Vitamin E is really the name for a group of fat-soluble antioxidants. It’s important for skin health for a number of reasons:
- Supports cell function and regeneration
- May reduce UV damage to the skin
- May help reduce the symptoms of eczema
- Helps reduce inflammation
- Helps protect against free radicals
Essential Fatty Acids
Fat seems to be one of the most misunderstood aspects of a healthy diet, and some of this translates into skin nutrition. Fat is not necessarily the enemy (and neither are carbs by the way), but it is important that you are able to differentiate between healthy fats eaten in moderation (unsaturated and omega-3 example) and unhealthy fats like saturated fat and trans-fat.
The two fatty acids that are essential are omega-3 (also known as alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). They play a critical role in normal skin function as this study shows, and eating the proportionally correct amount of these essential acids may:
- Support the skin’s natural oily barrier
- Reduce sensitivity to the sun’s rays
- Help reduce acne inflammation
- Help keep your skin moisturized
- Support wound healing
- Help maintain skin integrity
Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in your skin’s defenses. It gets less PR attention than some of the other nutrients we have already discussed, but zinc is present in every cell in your body and it benefits your skin in ways including:
- Helping to heal skin if it is cut and protect against infection
- Helping to regulate cell production and turnover
- Helping to control your body’s inflammatory response
- Relieving some of the redness and irritation of inflammatory skin conditions
- Acting as an antioxidant (although it is not technically an antioxidant)
Now that you are familiar with the nutrients, lets start talking about specific foods good for skin that can help supply you with them. Here are 10 foods to eat that can help give you better skin:
Foods Good For Skin
Avocados are a great, nutrient rich food. The nutritional breakdown of just 1 medium avocado includes:
- 160 calories
- 8g carbohydrates
- 6g fiber
- 14g fat
- 2g protein
- 485mg potassium
- 7% daily value of Vitamin A
- 10% daily value of Vitamin C
- 13% daily value of Vitamin E
- 12% daily value of Calcium
The high content of Vitamins C and E in particular are really great for your skin.
The fat content of an avocado may also be high, but the majority of the fat is monounsaturated, which is a healthy fat. Research like this study of 700 women shows that healthy fats can benefit your skin.
Fatty fish in general are great for your skin because they contain generous levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Other types of fatty fish include mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies.
The most up to date research, although not totally conclusive, does suggest that omega-3 fatty acids benefit your skin by:
- helping to protect it from the Sun’s UV rays
- helping to reduce inflammation
- helping with acne – see this study as an example
- accelerate wound healing
This 2016 study showed strong evidence that they can even reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers.
Wild salmon is a particularly great (and tasty) fish to help your skin health. The nutritional value of just 100g of wild salmon include approximately:
- Just 142 calories
- 3g fat of which 5.3g is unsaturated
- 20g of protein
- 18% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B1
- 29% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B2
- 50% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B3
- 19% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B5
- 47% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6
- 7% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B9
- 51% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12
- 18% of your recommended daily intake of potassium
- 60% of your recommended daily intake of selenium
- 8% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E
- The antioxidant astaxanthin which may reduce oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL)
The healthy benefits of salmon and oily fish extend beyond your skin so it’s a good idea to make them a staple in your diet.
This includes fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. They are a fantastic source of antioxidants – something your body needs to fight against the free radicals that can cause skin damage and aging.
Berries, particularly strawberries, also provide great levels of vitamin C. This is important for your skin for things like:
- Enhancing the radiance of your skin
- Inhibiting melanin production
- Evening out skin tone
Here is a breakdown of approximately how much vitamin C the 4 post popular berries provide in a 100g serving:
- Blackberries - 35% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C
- Blueberries - 16% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C
- Raspberries - 29% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C
- Strawberries - 65% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C
In particular: walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds and pistachios. Each type of nut offers a slightly different mix and concentration of nutrients, but nuts are great overall because they help provide your body with:
- Vitamins A, C and E
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Now nuts are admittedly high in fat and calories, and whilst the majority might be good fat, it’s best to eat in moderation (as with all food really). But a suitable intake of nuts on a regular basis can really help to increase your chances of having healthy, clear skin that looks younger for longer.
Tomatoes are a great skin food because they contain a great mix of nutrients including high levels of vitamin C and all of the major carotenoids. They are particularly rich in lycopene and overall tomatoes can benefit your skin by:
- Helping to prevent premature aging and wrinkles
- Helping to protect it against sun damage
- Helping to soothe skin inflammation
- Helping stimulate collagen production (vitamin C)
- Helping to protect against free radicals
Some of the potential benefits of drinking green tea include:
- May help to regulate oil production through the
- Help to moisturize the skin
- Helps to promote skin elasticity
- May help to slow down premature skin aging
- Help protect against sun damage
- Help with skin roughness and thickness
Bell peppers are a great source of vitamins like Vitamin A (via Beta Carotene) and Vitamin C but they also contain folate and iron which are useful nutrients for the skin.
As an example, one medium red pepper can give you:
- 74% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin A
- 15% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin B6
- 253% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C
Another great food for consumption of beta carotene that your body turns into Vitamin A. In fact, one sweet potato (approximately 130g or 4.6 oz) can give you more than 3 times your recommended daily value of Vitamin A. And don’t forget that beta carotene is an antioxidant.
An amazing food for nutrition overall, broccoli contains many important vitamins and minerals for your skin. It also contains lutein and which helps protect against oxidative damage and sulforaphane which will help protect your skin against sun damage and there is even some evidence that suggests it may help maintain your collagen levels.
Just one cup of broccoli will give you more than your daily recommended value of vitamin C.
This exotic fruit is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C in all the available options to you. One average size guava will give you more than double your daily recommended value of vitamin C and one full cup of guava would give you over 6 times your daily value!
Guava also contains good levels of antioxidants so it’s another food to help protect you against those pesky free radicals!
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