Whether you’re looking to preserve your youthful appearance or trying to combat the increasingly evident signs of aging, there still is no better way to treat your skin than to start from within. Even with the most expensive beauty products, if you’re not getting the necessary nutrients your body needs, your skin care routine won’t be nearly as effective. But don’t worry; every meal doesn’t have to be all kale and spinach (although let’s face it, leafy greens remain the most nutrient-dense food you’ll ever eat). Here are just a few everyday foods you didn’t know are helping your skin repair itself and resist further damage.
Lean cuts of beef, like sirloin and filet mignon, are great sources of protein. Protein builds collagen, the fibrous tissue that gives skin its plumpness. Unfortunately, after age 20 you can lose around 1% of the collagen in your skin every year. Over time, your skin starts to sag and look deflated. Lean proteins can provide the amino acids necessary to help collagen production. Other good sources of lean protein include eggs, skinless chicken or turkey, beans and lentils, fish and shellfish, tofu and soy, nuts and nut butters, and seeds like quinoa.
2. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers, especially the yellow ones, are high in vitamin C, another vital nutrient in collagen synthesis as well as in preventing the breakdown of elastin, a protein found in connective tissues that give skin its elasticity. Elastin allows skin to bounce back after being stretched, such as when you smile. Aside from bell peppers, other rich sources of vitamin C are guava, kiwi, broccoli, dark leafy greens, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomato and papaya.
Oysters are low in fat, low in calorie and high in protein; it’s also rich in copper, which works with vitamin C and protein to build collagen and elastin. Other foods richest in copper include liver, shellfish, raw kale, shiitake mushrooms, sesame and sunflower seeds, cashews, soybeans and legumes like garbanzo beans and lentils. Another food that’s rich in copper? Dark chocolate — a good excuse to indulge!
4. Non-Green Vegetables
Many of us are partial to dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, dandelion greens, Brussels sprouts and broccoli—and for good reason: it’s rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients — the scientific term for the natural chemicals that give plants their bright colors — have been shown to help boost skin’s UV resistance, protecting against sun damage that causes dullness, fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Moreover, study findings† show ingesting phytonutrients gives skin a healthy, youthful, glowing complexion. But greens aren’t the only ones that contain phytonutrients; other vibrantly colored foods are full of it, along with antioxidants that help combat inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.
A wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies on your plate means a wide range of healthy phytonutrients. Eat plenty of foods from these three phytonutrient color groups for optimal skin-protecting benefits:
Red (lycopene) – Guavas, watermelon, tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, red bell peppers, red chili peppers, red cabbage, red grapes and cherries
Orange (beta-carotene) – Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, and peaches.
Yellow (lutein and zeaxanthin) – Yellow squash and corn
5. Seeds and Nuts
Moisture loss is an unavoidable fact of aging. Dry skin can both cause and emphasize fine lines and wrinkles, so keeping hydrated is a must. The easiest way is to drink lots of water to replenish skin cells and prevent further moisture loss. Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids help to moisturize and lubricate skin cells to give skin a supple, dewy appearance.
Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocado, peanuts, turnip greens, asparagus, beet greens and mustard greens. For the best sources of omega-3s, have some flaxseed, walnuts, sardines, salmon, grass-fed beef, soybeans or tofu at your next meal.
The first defense against aging should start from within by providing your skin the building blocks it needs for a strong, supple, stunning appearance. Supplement your anti-aging beauty routine with these healthy foods, and enjoy eating your way to younger-looking skin!