Healthy skin doesn’t just start with what you put on your body. It begins with what you put IN your body.
Did you know that there are many beneficial foods that promote healthy, younger-looking skin? And no, they aren’t just plain vegetables or boring nuts - some delicious options like, avocados, fatty fish, red grapes, and even dark chocolate can promote healthy skin.
If you have dry skin or fear oxidative stress from the sun’s harmful rays, read through this article to start incorporating these foods into your daily diet and start noticing a difference in your skin.
In this post, we’ll list 11 foods that brighten your skin, reduce the chances of breakouts, and hydrate your skin, too.
Seriously, who doesn’t love avocados? And they’re good for your skin? Count us in!
High in healthy fats, avocados help keep your skin flexible and moisturized.
One study found that a high intake of the healthy fats found in avocados associated over 700 women with more supple, springy skin (1).
Avocados are high in vitamin E, a crucial antioxidant that works to protect skin from oxidative damage. And it works even more efficiently when combined with vitamin C, a nutrient that your skin needs in order to create collagen, the main protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
You can get 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 11% of the DV for vitamin C in just about half of an avocado, two nutrients that many individuals are deficient in and don’t know it. (4).
Try throwing avocado on some toast with an egg, in a salad, or just seasoned with salt and pepper!
Avocados are high in beneficial healthy fats, which are important for maintaining strong and healthy skin. They also contain vitamin E and C, two nutrients that work together to strengthen the skin and battle oxidative damage from the sun.
2. Fatty Fish
Your fancy seafood feast just got better, and your skin will thank you!
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized (5).
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation (from pesky pimples or dry, irritated skin) and reduce skin’s sensitivity to harmful rays from the sun (6).
Aside from fatty acids, these fish are a great source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant for your skin, as mentioned before, to protect your skin against free radical damage and inflammation.
Protein isn’t just good for your overall health, but it’s good for maintaining the strength of your skin.
Lastly, fish provides an important mineral, zinc. Zinc helps regulate inflammation and promote skin health, a healthy immune system, production of new cells, wound-healing, and prevents lesions (7).
Fatty fish pack a powerful punch: omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E and zinc; nutrients and minerals that reduce inflammation, strengthen and protect skin, and keep skin moisturized and supple. Go get your fish on!
Walnuts, a delicious snack, are a great source of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. In fact, they’re more rich in these fatty acids than most other nuts (8).
In addition to these fatty acids, one ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 8% of the DV for zinc, an essential mineral for your skin’s function as a barrier. Zinc also helps with wound healing and combating bacteria and inflammation (9).
Not only that, but walnuts also have small amounts of vitamin E and selenium, as well as protein! We already talked about the benefits of vitamin E for your skin, but selenium boasts a large list of benefits:
Fights free radicals
Immune-system booster (which helps fight off skin infections)
Heals skin when paired with vitamin E (by boosting glutathione) (10)
Walnuts provide a hearty list of skin benefits including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, protein, and selenium.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes! A Sierra Leonean delight.
Beta carotene, a carotenoid in sweet potatoes (and other foods such as oranges, carrots, and spinach) functions as provitamin A, meaning it can convert to vitamin A in your body (11).
Just ½ cup (100 grams) of baked sweet potatoes contains enough beta carotene to supply your body with more than six times the DV of vitamin A (12).
Carotenoids such as beta carotene help your skin by acting as a natural sunblock. This antioxidant protects skin from sun exposure, prevents sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
Sweet potatoes provide your body with beta carotene, an antioxidant that protects your skin from sun damage and its harmful side effects such as cell death and dry, wrinkled skin. It also provides your body with an ample supply of vitamin A.
5. Sunflower Seeds
Similar to the benefits of walnuts, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, an important antioxidant for your skin; selenium, an immune-system booster; zinc, an inflammation-reducing mineral; and protein.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% for selenium, 14% for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein (13).
Similar to walnuts, sunflower seeds contain nutrients such as vitamin E, selenium, zinc and protein; all of which are beneficial for protecting the skin, reducing inflammation, and boosting your immune system.
6. Dark Chocolate
There never is a bad time for chocolate. And it helps our skin? YUM!
One study found that consuming 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate daily could allow skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared to low-antioxidant chocolate (14).
The antioxidant properties may also help reduce the chance of wrinkles, improve skin thickness, hydration, blood flow (which helps bring nutrients to your skin) and skin texture.
Before indulging, make sure the chocolate has at least 70% cocoa to maximize these benefits and minimize added sugar, which can be harmful for your skin.
Dark chocolate contains helpful antioxidants that protect your skin from sunburn and improve wrinkles, skin thickness, hydration, blood flow and skin texture.
Tomatoes act as a great source of vitamin C, which we all know is great for our immune system, but what about our skin?
Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape allows your skin to focus on itself and your body to bring nutrients to your skin, rather than your body focusing on fighting off a cold or skin infection.
Vitamin C also helps create collagen, a necessary protein for keeping your skin firm and strong.
Tomatoes also contain all of the major carotenoids: beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
Although these carotenoids are beneficial by themselves, fat is known to increase your absorption of these carotenoids. Consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, or spinach with a source of fat (18).
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and all of the major carotenoids that protect your skin from sun damage and prevent wrinkling.
8. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Like sweet potatoes and tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers are a great source of beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A. Beta carotene is also a great natural sunscreen, for the times you forget to lather up.
Just one cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains 156% of the DV of vitamin A (19).
Bell peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the best, in fact. Vitamin C helps keep your immune system strong and helps create the protein collagen, which helps keep skin strong and firm.
One cup (149 grams) packs 211% of the DV of vitamin C (20).
Red and yellow bell peppers provide your skin with beta carotene and vitamin C - important antioxidants for your skin. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A and acts as a natural sunscreen, while vitamin C helps create collagen, the protein that keeps your skin strong.
Broccoli - you either love it or you hate it. However, your skin will love it, so it might be worth it.
Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals including zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, the carotenoid, lutein, and a special compound called sulforaphane.
Lutein helps protect your skin from free radical damage, preventing dry and wrinkled skin.
In one laboratory test, sulforaphane reduced the number of UV-affected skin cells by as much as 29%, with protection lasting up to 48 hours.
Broccoli packs a powerful punch - with vitamin A and C, zinc, and the carotenoid lutein, all of which are beneficial for skin health. It also contains sulforaphane, a special compound that may prevent skin cancer and protect skin from sunburn.
10. Green Tea
Boil up some water and enjoy a nice cup of green tea - because this drink is an excellent choice for your skin.
Catechins, the powerful antioxidants found in green tea, help protect your skin from sun damage and improve moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of skin (24).
One 12-week study, involving 60 women, found that daily green tea consumption reduced redness from sun exposure by up to 25%.
Just make sure you avoid drinking your tea with milk, as it could reduce the effect of the antioxidants (25).
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins that can protect your skin from sun damage and reduce redness from sun exposure, as well as improve hydration, thickness, and elasticity of skin.
11. Red Grapes
Red grapes are well-known for containing resveratrol, the compound that comes from the skin of red grapes.
Resveratrol may slow the production of harmful free radicals and reduce the effects of aging (26).
This beneficial compound is also found in berries.
Red grapes are famous for resveratrol, an antioxidant known to reduce free radical damage and slow down your skin’s aging process.
Resveratrol, the famous antioxidant found in red grapes, may slow your skin’s aging process by impairing harmful free radicals that damage your skin.
To remind you, the key foods that are beneficial to your skin health are:
Red or Yellow Peppers
These foods contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other powerful compounds that fight free radical damage, act as a natural sunscreen, reduce redness and inflammation, improve skin strength and prevent signs of aging.
Try combining some of these foods to maximize their benefits for your skin, along with other added benefits for your overall health. Tomatoes and bell peppers can be thrown into a salad, whereas broccoli can be served on the side of baked salmon.