Skin is the largest organ of the body, so it’s imperative that we take care of it. While topical creams and dermatological treatments can help, what you put into your body is just as important.
So, we talked to Lindsey Yeh, board-certified dermatologist and owner of B.TOX.BAR in Los Gatos, California, about which superfoods will help us achieve healthy, glowing skin.
“Food delivers important nutrients that affect skin health,” says Yeh.
As she explains, what we eat is a vital part of preventing disease and skin damage. Yeh helped us round up 15 superfoods, explain what makes them super and how you can incorporate them into your diet so that can help your skin be healthy and radiant.
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Blueberries get their deep blue hue from anthocyanins, a sub-category of antioxidants that slow the oxidation that causes damage to our cells.
“The anthocyanins found in blueberries block sun damage caused by UV rays and free radicals that lead to the appearance of aging and skin cancer,” Dr. Yeh says.
You can buy fresh or frozen blueberries throughout the year. Combine them with a medley of other berries for a fruit salad or throw a handful of frozen ones into your morning smoothie.
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Tomatoes contain lycopene, another antioxidant that gives this versatile food its red color. These strong antioxidant properties slow oxidation and help protect against cancer.
Top your salad with grape tomatoes, add a few slices into your sandwich, or cook up some spaghetti sauce.
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Carrots are high in beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. “We use Vitamin A topically for many things, such as acne treatment and anti-aging,” Dr. Yeh says. “It increases cell turnover and delays wrinkles.”
Pair baby carrots with hummus as an afternoon snack, cook them up in a stew, or puree them into a soup.
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Oranges are a rich source of Vitamin C, which boosts immune function and helps protect against UV photodamage. Vitamin C can improve the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles, leading to more youthful-looking skin. Other citrus fruits that pack a Vitamin C punch include grapefruit, lemons and tangerines.
Replace a dessert filled with refined sugar with a skin-brightening orange.
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The body requires 21 amino acids that combine to build proteins crucial to cellular function and tissue repair.
“Eggs are a complete protein, which means they have all of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own,” Dr. Yeh says. They are an efficient source of lysine, cysteine, aspartic acid, tyrosine, valine, leucine, arginine and glutamine.
Don’t forget to eat the yolk, which is rich in nutrients such as biotin. Biotin stimulates hair and fingernail growth.
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Cucumbers contain approximately 96% water, providing nourishing hydration to your skin. Hydration is important for keeping your face feeling smooth and supple. For maximum nutritional benefits, keep the peel on.
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Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help your skin retain moisture, making your skin appear more radiant. Walnuts are also a powerful source of antioxidants, including Vitamins B and E to help prevent wrinkles.
Grab a handful of walnuts as a convenient on-the-go snack.
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Avocados are loaded with healthy, monosaturated and polysaturated fats to help moisturize and soften the skin. “Healthy fats can help dry skin by protecting the skin barrier,” Dr. Yeh explains. They are also filled with Vitamin C and Vitamin E, two antioxidants that help slow signs of aging.
Put a few slices on your salad or blend in a morning smoothie for extra richness. For a double dose of nutrients, whip up some guac and replace tortilla chips with bell pepper strips.
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Kale contains an abundance of healthy skin ingredients. Vitamin A stimulates collagen production and increases cell turnover, and Vitamin C helps prevent free-radical damage.
Kale and other leafy greens, such as spinach, are also loaded with fiber. “Fiber clears out toxins in your body and keeps your system regular, which ultimately helps skin health,” Dr. Yeh explains.
Use kale in your salads or add to your smoothies.
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Salmon is not only a good source of protein, but it’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega 3s are important for reducing inflammation,” Dr. Yeh says. Inflammation can lead to skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.
Next time you go out to dinner, try ordering the salmon instead of the steak.
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Oysters are another excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also high in zinc, which boosts the immune system and helps with collagen repair.
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12. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are another nutrient powerhouse. They contain protein, omega-3s and antioxidants.
Chia seeds make a tasty pudding. Stir four tablespoons of chia seeds into one cup of almond or coconut milk. Refrigerate overnight and sweeten with maple syrup to taste.
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Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Eastern cultures. Dr. Yeh says this anti-inflammatory agent can help with skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. It contains curcumin, another antioxidant to fight free radicals.
Make some “golden milk” by simmering almond or coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon, grated ginger and a pinch of pepper.
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Ginger is often used as a remedy for nausea, but its anti-inflammatory properties also make it a helpful healer for the skin.
Make lemon ginger tea by steeping ginger slices into hot tea. Add a couple of squeezes of lemon and sweeten with honey to taste.
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15. Bone broth
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, leading to sagging skin, wrinkles and a dull complexion. Collagen, which is naturally found in connective tissue, contains amino acids crucial to preserving skin elasticity and hydration.
Add more collagen to your diet with bone broth, which is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue in water to create a nutritious, gelatinous, collagen-rich stock.
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Eat this, not that
Dr. Yeh says to steer clear of foods that can cause inflammation and wreak havoc on your skin. “Stay away from processed foods,” she warns.
Instead, for optimum skin health, look for fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants, collagen, healthy fats and omega-3s.
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