If you truly are what you eat, why not make sure your plates, bowls and tupperware-packed, meal-prepped lunches and snacks contain the foods that work with and for your body. Eating for your skin never tasted so good.
Or any orange-hued vegetable, really — they’re all packed with beta carotene. This potent antioxidant is what gives these vegetables their gorgeous color and converts to vitamin A once ingested to protect skin cells from free radicals, aid in skin cell development, and help achieve healthy skin tone.
So you thought oranges packed the hardest vitamin C punch? Think again! Strawberries boast a whopping 85 mg of the stuff per cup versus an orange’s 70 mg. Not only is vitamin C a super antioxidant, it also helps support the immune system — which we all know is closely tied to the state of our skin — and speeds up the healing process for any skin-related blemishes or cuts. What’s more, the vitamin is a crucial part of the process that creates collagen.
Not into sun damage, age spots or skin cancer? Load your plate with foods like egg, fish, tomatoes and Brazil nuts for a daily dose of the powerful antioxidant selenium. Studies have found that a selenium-diet can help protect skin against the conditions.
Vitamin E is an uber-popular ingredient in skincare products, though it often goes unnoticed. But you shouldn’t sleep in this stuff: it’s an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals, fight inflammation, supports skin cell growth and can treat wrinkles, spots, and rough, dry skin. And wouldn’t you know it, almonds are practically swimming in the stuff.
This one shouldn’t surprise anyone. Your skin needs moisture, period. The easiest way to get it is by drinking sweet, sweet H2O throughout the day.
The term “healthy fats” is not an oxymoron, despite what some may think. When it comes to food, there are good fats and bad fats, and the former are uber-important to the health of your skin. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — the types of fats found in avocados (and oily fish and nuts) — provide the essential fatty acids your skin needs to keep it naturally moisturized and plump.
Whip up chia pudding, toss ‘em in your smoothie, add some to those six-to-eight glasses of water you’re drinking every day…whatever your method of ingestion, find a way to work chia seeds into your diet. Why? They’re full of omega-3 and omega-6 fats that help the body combat and heal skin inflammation. What’s more, these fats are critical to a healthy body but can’t be made by the body, so you have to get them from an outside source. If small, gelatinous seeds aren’t your thing, oily fish like salmon and walnut oil can serve the same purpose.
If your skin problems are rooted in wonky hormones (breakouts around your period, etc.), consider adding phytoestrogen-rich foods like soybeans, tofu, flax seed, lentils and oats to your plate. Phytoestrogens are a natural chemical found in plants that have a similar chemical structure to oestrogen, and can therefore help keep natural hormones in balance.
I want to preface this one by saying that a daily serving of tomatoes is not a replacement for sunscreen! But these cherry-hued beauties are super-high in lycopene, the antioxidant that helps fruits and veggies (like tomatoes!) protect themselves from damage caused by light. As such, it can also help improve your skin’s natural ability to protect itself from the sun and calm redness.
You may have soaked in an oatmeal bath as a kid to soothe itchy skin conditions like chicken pox, but the breakfast staple works powerfully from the inside, out as well. Whole grain, steel-cut oats are full of natural vitamins and break down slowly in your body, which keeps blood sugar stable. Why does this matter for skin? When blood sugar spikes, it leads to elevated levels of androgens, a hormone that sends sebaceous glands into overdrive, leading to oily skin and clogged pores.
Surprise! You knew this one was coming, right? Kale (or any dark, leafy green) is one of the best ways to get your necessary dose of a group of nutrients that absorb and neutralize free radicals from UV light that make it past your sunscreen. It’s also packed with skin-firming vitamin C and skin cell production and turnover powerhouse, vitamin A.
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you…glow. Gotcha. But yes, beans (especially chickpeas), are rich in protein and fiber, both of which work to keep blood sugar stable and produce a similar result to that of oatmeal when it comes to hormones (see above). They’re also high in zinc, which not only kills blemish-causing bacteria, but also has immense healing properties for any existing blemishes.
You didn’t think I’d let this list end without a dessert option, did you? Lucky for those of us with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is rich on cocoa flavanols, antioxidant plant compounds that hydrate skin and improve circulation. Since sugar can mess with your skin, make sure that you’re eating a high-quality dark chocolate. Look for the darkest one you can find (the highest cocoa/cacao percentage — whatever isn’t cocoa/cacao is sugar), and choose one that uses cocoa butter instead of vegetable oils.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.