Nutrition is important for your health. Eating unhealthy can negatively affect your metabolism, cause weight gain and even damage organs, such as your heart and liver.
But what you eat can also impacts another organ — YOUR SKIN.
“Contrary to popular belief, eating chocolate and French fries won’t give you acne, but eating a well-balanced healthy diet will help your skin look its best. Recent research suggests that certain foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and Omega-3 rich foods can help to slow the aging process of the largest organ in the body, our skin. Other foods, such as refined carbohydrates, processed foods, dairy and saturated fats may help to accelerate the aging process,” according to The Quench.
So, the old adage, “You are what you eat,” certainly rings true when it comes to your skin.
Here are some foods that are important for your skin health. And remember, it’s important to consult your doctor or nutritionist before making any changes to your diet.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health.
Avocados are high in healthy fats. These fats benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin. Getting enough of these fats is essential to keep skin flexible and moisturized.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin. They are a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself. In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
(Keep in mind, a diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of your skin like psoriasis. On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body — including in your skin.)
In general, nuts and seeds are good sources of skin-boosting nutrients. Sunflower seeds are an excellent example. One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 37% of the RDI for vitamin E, 32% of the RDI for selenium, 10% of the RDI for zinc and 5.4 grams of protein.
Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in plants. It functions as provitamin A, which means it can be converted into vitamin A in your body.
Beta-carotene is found in oranges and vegetables such as carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. Carotenoids like beta-carotene keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock.
When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and protects your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death and dry, wrinkled skin.
Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C, necessary for creating the protein collagen which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 317% of the RDI for vitamin C.
A large observational study in women linked eating plenty of vitamin C to a reduced risk of wrinkled and dry skin with age.
Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C.
It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. Lutein protects 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 also a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: by neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body.
Tomatoes are 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.
Because tomatoes contain all of the major carotenoids, they’re an excellent food for maintaining healthy skin.
Soy contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body.
Isoflavones may benefit several parts of your body, including your skin.
One small study in middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity.
In postmenopausal women, soy may also improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong.
These isoflavones not only protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may help prevent some skin cancers.
Not that you need another reason to eat chocolate but here it is: The effects of cocoa on your skin are pretty phenomenal.
After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experience 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 versus eating low-antioxidant chocolate.
Several other studies have produced similar results, including improvements in the appearance of wrinkles. However, keep in mind that at least one study did not find significant effects.
Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa in order to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
Green tea may protect your skin from damage and aging.
The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins and work to improve the health of your skin in several ways.
Like several other antioxidant-containing foods, green tea can help protect your skin against sun damage.
One 12-week study in 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25%. Green tea also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness and elasticity of their skin.
While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk. There’s evidence that milk could reduce the impact of the antioxidants in green teas.
Red wine is famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes.
Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, among them reducing the effects of aging.
Test-tube studies suggest it may also slow the production of harmful free radicals, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging.
Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to impact your skin. And since red wine is an alcoholic beverage, there are negative effects to drinking it in excess.
It’s not recommended to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. However, if you already drink in moderation, you might enjoy red wine as your alcoholic beverage of choice.
List courtesy of Healthline: Medical information and health advice you can trust.
So, maintain healthier skin by eating nutritious foods, remembering your sunscreen and staying hydrated.