12 Surprising Foods That Can Help to Banish Your Worst Skin Issues

Aly Walansky
Masahiro Makino/Getty Images

Masahiro Makino/Getty Images

Don’t get us wrong: It’s important to cleanse, tone, moisturize, exfoliate, and what have you, but there’s way more to having good skin than simply what you put on it. They that we are what we eat, and it’s never truer than when it comes to maintaining a radiant complexion. These 12 unexpected foods not only have health benefits, but they can also help to assuage all of your worst skin issues. Don’t believe us? Try ‘em.

Green Tea
There have been a number of encouraging studies showing the skin benefits of green tea. In fact, animal studies even showed protection from skin cancer, says Dr. David E. Bank, a dermatologist and Founder/Director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “Both animal and human studies have credibly demonstrated that topical green tea formulations reduce sun damage. Green tea appears to exert sun damage protection by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays. Therefore, green tea may synergistically enhance sun protection when used in addition to a sunscreen,” Dr. Bank explains.

Walnuts are packed with copper, a mineral that improves collagen production, says Dr. Sanjiv Saini of MD Dermatology. Eating a few walnuts a day can improve your skin’s overall texture.

“Pineapple is my number one celebrity secret for blemishes due to its high sulfur content,” says beauty expert Scott-Vincent Borba, author of “Cooking Your Way to Gorgeous: Skin-Friendly Superfoods, Age-Reversing Recipes and Fabulous Homemade Facials.” Sulfur is a naturally occurring antibacterial agent that lives in connective tissues, nerve cells, skin, hair and nails—it’s actually one of the most abundant minerals in the body, says Borba. “[Sulfur is] a key element in cell turnover, which can reduce breakouts, blemishes, and acne. Fresh pineapple is also a great source of vitamin C, which fights free radicals.” Furthermore, Borba says, “Pineapple’s magical enzyme is bromelain, which aids digestion and is most heavily concentrated in its core. It contains digestive enzymes that can also be helpful in combating bad breath.”

Dark Chocolate
Rejoice! Delicious dark chocolate is a skin-friendly ingredient that hosts a range of potent antioxidants, Dr. Bank says. These antioxidants protect your skin from free radical damage, which helps to keep it soft, supple, and looking youthful. “[The antioxidants] shield your skin against detrimental UV rays and thus help preventing conditions like sunburns and skin cancer. Regular consumption of dark chocolate helps you achieve a smooth, problem-free complexion,” he adds. Dark chocolate boasts wonderful stress-relieving qualities and work wonders in reducing elevated stress hormones, which can wreak havoc on your complexion.

“Honey naturally has the ability to attract and retain moisture—and the skin’s ability to retain moisture affects its appearance, touch, and elasticity,” says W Austin’s AWAY Spa Director, Candice Betz. “Studies also indicate [it contains] significant antioxidant properties. Antioxidants play a huge role the revitalization of damaged skin cells, making it a great component for many of our treatments,” she adds. “Honey also is an effective antimicrobial agent, working to inhibit growth of certain bacteria and help fight against blemishes and breakouts.”

Almond Milk
Almond milk is an excellent source of vitamin E, a known antioxidant, which fights against free radicals. “[Free radicals] contribute to collagen and elastin depletion. Collagen and elastin are important substances that give the skin its elasticity and firmness,” Dr. Bank explains. “The collagen and elastin supply of the skin are depleted after prolonged exposure to free radicals.” As you get older, your body is unable to replenish the depleted supply—this is the primary cause of wrinkles, fine lines, and other skin blemishes. Vitamin E, present in almond milk, protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which results in healthier, younger-looking skin. ” Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is found in abundance in almond milk, as well as vitamin B3, or niacin. These properties work to aid circulation and hydrate the skin by trapping moisture within the cells.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids, which help the skin to retain water and stay adequately moisturized.

Cherries are a plant-based source of melatonin, the sleep hormone. “Not only does melatonin help you sleep, but it’s an antioxidant, which is good for your skin health and for weight loss,” says dermatologist Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael of Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser. The antioxidants in cherries also help to reduce inflammation.

Tomatoes are rich in vitamins, and we mean rich—vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K, alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene are all found in tomatoes, says Dr. Bank. These are great antioxidants and help the skin maintain healthy collagen.

The vibrant orange color of this squash indicates that it’s loaded with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant, says Dr. Bank. Beta carotene gets converted to vitamin A, which helps prevent wrinkles and keep your skin youthful and moisturized. This is the perfect food if you are experiencing dry skin due to cold weather. Pumpkin is also loaded with Vitamin C, another antioxidant that protects collagen and boosts our immune systems.

To boost the efficacy of topical sunscreen, arm yourself with fruits that contain nutrients that can protect from the inside out, says celebrity dermatologist Howard Murad, M.D. Pomegranates are a great source of polyphenol and ellagic acid, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, and has actually been proven to improve the SPF of topical sunscreens. Because free radical damage affects every cell in the body, polyphenol is a great way to prevent damage from occurring inside the body.

Not only are carrots good for your eyesight, but they can positively impact your complexion, too. “Our skin is up against a lot of environmental factors every day, like sun radiation and toxins, which, combined with stress, lead to weakened defense against damaging free radicals that attack our skin,” says Dr. Bank. Carotenoids, found in carrots, are your protection from these everyday pollutants and will prevent wrinkles.

Read more: 13 Foods You Must Add to Your Diet for Perfect Skin