While face washes and creams are sometimes effective when it comes to battling acne, you can actually help your situation even more by eating certain foods that are great for clear skin.
Try incorporating the following seven foods recommended by nationally recognized dietitian and nutritionist Elisa Zied, author of YOUNGER NEXT WEEK: Your Ultimate Rx to Reverse the Clock, Boost Energy and Look and Feel Younger in 7 Days, and internationally renowned cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, M.D., author of The Great Cholesterol Myth Cookbook, into your diet. Your skin will be glowing—and clear—in no time.
1. Oily fish like salmon or tuna
Eating fish provides your body with biotin, a B vitamin that, among its many functions, produces fatty acids and metabolizes amino acids (the building blocks of protein). A deficiency of biotin can cause, among other things, scaly skin—which, clearly, no one wants.
2. Chia seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain cell membranes by protecting the skin and providing it with moisture. Chia seeds and walnuts are rich in these fatty acids (great choices if you’re a vegetarian), as are wild bison and oily fish (great options if you’re a meat-eater).
3. Sweet potatoes
Eating a produce-rich diet provides your body with lots of water, keeping your skin and other cells adequately hydrated. And loading up on colorful, deeply-colored fruits and vegetables—especially those rich in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach—has been shown to enhance skin color and appearance by increasing its yellowness and redness.
Packed with vitamin E, almonds can help you maintain healthy skin. While chowing down on these nuts can’t replace sunscreen, it’s worth noting that vitamin E may also protect the skin from damage caused by the sun.
5. Sunflower seeds
These little seeds provide an excellent source of vitamin E and help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals in the environment and in the body (free radicals in excess can harm body cells, including skin cells).
6. Complex carbs
Processed foods and white flour can increase inflammation and cause acne flair-ups. Replace pasta and white rice with complex carbs like barley, quinoa, beans, and brown rice—foods that are all lower on the glycemic index.
7. Orange juice
Although juice often gets a bad rap, OJ provides fluids to keep you hydrated and Vitamin C, which works as an antioxidant to protect skin and other cells from damage caused by free radicals in the environment and in the body. Vitamin C also helps create collagen, the body’s main structural protein.
Originally published November 2013. Updated March 2017.