After all those years of health class, it should come as no surprise to anyone to hear that skin is the body’s largest organ. In that same vein (yep, pun intended), foods that help to keep your body feeling great on the inside will also contribute to helping you look your best on the outside. Add these healthy, delicious foods to your everyday diet, and you’ll be well on your way to looking and feeling amazing, perfect skin included.
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll tell you again: Fruits and vegetables both tend to be high in water content, but it’s always helpful to simply drink more water, particularly with lemon, says Marie Delcioppo, owner of Lush Vitality. Water keeps the skin well-hydrated and “dewy,” and adding lemon to water boosts detoxification and antioxidant intake.
There have been a number of encouraging studies showing the skin benefits of green tea, says Dr. David Bank, dermatologist and Founder & Director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “Animal studies showed protection from skin cancer [as a result of green tea consumption]. Both animal and human studies have credibly demonstrated that topical green tea formulations reduce sun damage.” He adds, “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.”
As an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredient, coconut oil will help clear up skin flare-ups, moisturize, and boost antioxidant activity, which slows down the aging process, says Delcioppo.
To boost the efficacy of your favorite sunscreen, arm yourself with fruits that contain nutrients that can protect from the inside out, says celebrity dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad. Pomegranates are a great source of polyphenol and ellagic acid, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, which 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 from the inside out to protect against premature aging.
Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Vitamin A can help with signs of premature aging, says Rene Ficek, RD, LDN, CDE, the lead nutrition expert for Seattle Sutton‘s Healthy Eating. Vitamin A is a very popular, well-known skin topical treatment, but consuming it can also help protect skin. Super foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidant beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.
Berries are an excellent source of vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which helps repair damaged body tissues and has been linked to skin cancer prevention, says Ficek. “In my studies of collagen, vitamin C emerges as very important for beautiful and healthy skin. It helps protect skin, fights oxidation, encourages collagen synthesis and more,” says Kathy Heshelow, founder of Sublime Beauty. Be sure to include berries, citrus, kiwis, leafy greens, and peppers in your daily diet for gorgeous skin!
Some of the most obvious signs of the aging process can be found in the appearance of our skin. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation ages the skin more quickly, but eating dark chocolate has been shown to help protect the skin against the harmful effects of ultraviolet exposure, says Ficek.
You may know that red wine can be good for the heart, but the same antioxidants and nutrients which help to fight heart disease by protecting the lining of blood vessels also fight signs of aging, says Ficek. One of the most recognized anti-aging components found in red wine is an antioxidant called resveratrol—studies have shown that resveratrol may help prevent blood clots and decrease inflammation within the body.
Yogurt makes a wise addition to most diets, but Greek yogurt is especially beneficial due to its high protein content, which can be twice as much as other yogurts, says Wendy Lewis of Beauty in the Bag.
If you are looking to achieve clear, blemish-free skin, make sure probiotics are part of your daily diet, says Dr. Roshini Raj, a celebrity doctor and founder of TULA probiotic skin care line. Named as a new beauty breakthrough by the American Academy of Dermatology, probiotics have been shown to help clear up skin, calm inflammation, and decrease skin sensitivity and redness. By altering the permeability of intestinal walls and acting as a sealed barrier, they prevent certain molecules that may lead to inflammation, which in turn can trigger acne or rosacea, from entering the bloodstream. Moreover, recent research also suggests that when applied topically, probiotics secrete anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory substances that help with skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. Talk about a panacea!
Walnuts are loaded with protein and omega-3 essential fatty acids to boost your collagen production, says Lewis.
Almond milk is an excellent source of vitamin E, a known antioxidant, says Dr. Bank. “Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals alter cell genetic code, resulting to mutated proteins. When mutation happens, cancer may develop. Free radicals often cause irreversible damage to the skin; it contributes to collagen and elastin depletion,” Dr. Bank says. Collagen and elastin are important substances that give the skin its elasticity and firmness. 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.
Fats and oils can provide anti-inflammatory protection and youth-preserving antioxidants. Fatty fish provides hefty helpings of anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids; salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are among your best bets, says Ficek. Nuts are another great way to incorporate healthy fats, as well as skin-protecting Vitamin E.
Read more: 7 Foods for Prettier, Healthier Hair