You’ve heard the sayings “You are what you eat” and “Beauty is on the inside,” and when it comes to your skin care regimen, both just might be true. Not only does a healthy diet help keep skin in tip-top shape, but there are foods that may actually combat specific skin problems. Whether you’re trying to protect yourself against sun damage, clear up acne or decrease fine lines and wrinkles, here are nine foods that can help you toward achieving glowing, healthy skin.
Lowfat Dairy for Acne and Wrinkles
An important contributor to overall skin health, vitamin A helps your cells mature properly, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s dermatology department in New York City. In fact, retinol, used to treat both acne and fine lines, is actually a compound of vitamin A. Lowfat dairy products like plain yogurt are a great source of vitamin A, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, as are liver, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale.
Flaxseed for Wrinkles
You’ve heard a million times how good salmon is for fighting wrinkles because it contains omega-3 fatty acids (otherwise known as “good fats”), but according to the Mayo Clinic, flaxseed also contains high levels of these super fats. Not only do omega-3 fatty acids make your cell membranes stronger—which helps prevent harmful toxins from being absorbed—but they also keep moisture from getting out. “Healthy membranes allow cells to hold as much water in as possible, which makes the skin look plumper and younger,” Dr. Zeichner says. Other good sources of these essential fatty acids include walnuts and canola oil.
Green Tea for Sun Damage
Green tea has garnered a lot of attention for its various health benefits, but it’s truly a powerhouse when it comes to preventing skin damage. The polyphenols in green tea contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to a study from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which means they protect against damaging ultraviolet rays. “In cultures where people have a high intake of green tea, it has been shown that they have a lower rate of skin cancer compared to other cultures,” Dr. Zeichner says.
Tuna for Sagging
In recent years, tuna has gotten a bad rap because of high mercury levels. However, when eaten in moderation, it still offers numerous nutrients, including selenium. According to the National Institutes of Health, the trace mineral helps prevent cellular damage. It also promotes elastin, a protein in your connective tissue that keeps your skin smooth, tight and flexible. Selenium can also be also found in beef, cod and turkey.
Avocados for Elasticity
One of the best sources of healthy fat is avocados. The high levels of monounsaturated fats in this smooth and savory fruit protect your skin cells and prevent wrinkling. “Similar to fatty acids, monounsaturated fats are incorporated in your cell walls, making them stronger,” Dr. Zeichner says. “There have even been studies showing that cultures with a high intake of monounsaturated fats have less wrinkling.” Other good sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, almonds and peanut butter.
Cooked Tomatoes for Sun Damage
Tomatoes—particularly cooked ones—are a terrific source of lycopene, an antioxidant compound in the carotenoid family that gives the fleshy fruit its red color. Lycopene helps defend against sun damage and wrinkles—and might even help both prevent and treat skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. “A very potent antioxidant, it can neutralize free radicals caused by ultraviolet exposure from the sun,” Dr. Zeichner says. Other healthy sources of lycopene include watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya and red bell peppers.
Sweet Potatoes for Smooth Skin
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, which has been shown to support the growth of collagen, a protein that smoothes out wrinkles and gives the appearance of a fuller, more youthful face. In fact, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that volunteers who consumed 4 milligrams of vitamin C daily for three years were 11 percent less likely to have a wrinkled appearance. Other great sources of vitamin C include papayas, carrots and citrus fruits.
Berries for Sun Damage
Packed full of antioxidants, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries protect the skin against sun damage. Blueberries are particularly rich in flavones, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. “Kind of known as longevity genes, they are involved in expanding the lifespan of cells, leaving them looking younger and healthier for a longer period of time,” Dr. Zeichner says.
Almonds for Sun Damage
Several vitamins work as natural sun blockers and are often included in sunscreen formulas; vitamin E—which almonds are chockful of—is one of the most common. “Antioxidant vitamins are used in sunscreens because anything that does get through in theory can be neutralized by the antioxidants to prevent free radical damage,” Dr. Zeichner says. Other great dietary sources of vitamin E include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts.
Written by Alexandra Gekas
Originally published on WomansDay.com