Top 10 Foods To Include in Your Diet for Healthy Skin - Evidence based (Scientifically Proven)

The skin care industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. There is a ton of information related to diet, skincare products and services published on the internet on a daily basis. 


However, there is also a lot of mis-information and non reference-backed information (non evidence-based) out there. Many articles and blog posts (by self-proclaimed experts) are published without any references or respectable sources to their claims. 


In order to reduce the confusion, we have decided to research and analyse the available information out there and develop an updated evidence-based consumer's guide on diet for healthy skin.

Here is the list.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C (ref).

It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. Lutein protects your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled.

But broccoli also pack a special compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive potential benefits. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer (ref, ref).


2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes provide many impressive health benefits, several of which can be attributed to their high lycopene content.

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke and prostate cancer (ref, ref, ref).

Studies show that it may also protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun (ref, ref, ref).

In one study, women who ate a mixture of foods high in lycopene and other plant antioxidants had a measurable decrease in wrinkle depth after 15 weeks (ref).

Cooking tomatoes with healthy fats, such as olive oil, significantly boosts the absorption of lycopene into the body (ref).


3. Green Tea

Green tea is high in antioxidants, which can protect against free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that form during metabolism and in response to stress. Antioxidants change their structure so they're unable to cause damage.

Green tea is particularly high in antioxidants called polyphenols, which can fight diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation and heart disease (ref, ref, ref).

Polyphenols may also help protect collagen, the main protein in your skin. This may reduce and even partly reverse some signs of aging (ref, ref, ref, ref).

In one study, women with sun-damaged skin who were treated with green tea cream and supplements for 8 weeks had modest improvements in skin elasticity (ref).


4. Pomegranates

Pomegranates are one of the healthiest fruits.

Their antioxidant activity appears to be even higher than that of green tea (ref).


Pomegranates decrease inflammation, help prevent damage from high blood sugar levels and may improve outcomes in patients with colon cancer (refrefref).

They also help protect the skin from sun damage (refref).

What's more, researchers suggest that different parts of the pomegranate may work together to repair damaged skin and increase collagen production (ref).


5. Dark Chocolate/Cocoa

The antioxidant profile of dark chocolate is second to none. It is even more powerful than acai berries, blueberries and cranberries (ref).

Research suggests it may reduce blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity and improve arterial function and elasticity (ref, ref).

Chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols, which protect the skin from sun damage. However, the amount of flavanols varies significantly among different types of chocolate (ref).

One study showed that high-flavanol dark chocolate doubled the amount of time people could stay in the sun before turning red. This didn't occur in people who ate chocolate with less flavanols (ref).

In other studies comparing high-flavanol and low-flavanol cocoa on skin function, people in the high-flavanol groups experienced better blood flow to the skin and improvements in thickness, hydration and smoothness (ref, ref).

Remember, the higher the cocoa content, the higher the flavanol content. So make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids.


6. Walnuts

Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin.

They are a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself.

In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (refref).

A diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of your skin like psoriasis. On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body — including in your skin (ref).

While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare. Because walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids, they may fight the inflammatory response to excessive omega-6.

What's more, walnuts contain other nutrients that your skin needs to function properly and stay healthy.

One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 6% of the RDI for zinc, which is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier, as well as necessary for wound healing and combatting both bacteria and inflammation (ref).

Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams) (ref).


7. Sunflower and Flax seeds

Like nuts, sunflower seeds are rich in protective fatty oils.

According to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sunflower seeds also contain substantial amounts of zinc and vitamin E. Both may help to protect skin cells.

Flax seeds are rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Grinding fresh flaxseeds into a smoothie or onto a salad can be a simple way to add more omega-3 fats to the diet and keep the skin looking healthful.

Authors of a study from 2011 found that female participants with sensitive skin who took a flaxseed oil supplement for 12 weeks experienced:

  • reduced skin sensitivity
  • reduced roughness
  • reduced scaling
  • increased hydration
  • smoother skin

8. Soy


Tofu, made from soybeans, may help improve skin elasticity.

Soybeans contain compounds called isoflavones, which may play an important role in protecting the skin, especially for females.

One small study in middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity (ref).

In postmenopausal women, soy may also improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong (ref).

These isoflavones not only protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may help prevent some skin cancers (refrefref).


9. Avocados

Avocados are high in healthy fats. These fats benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin (ref).

Getting enough of these fats is essential to keep skin flexible and moisturized.

One study in over 700 women found that a high intake of total fat — specifically the types of healthy fats found in avocados — was associated with more supple, springy skin (ref).

Preliminary evidence also shows that avocados contain compounds that may protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging (ref, ref).

Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage. Most Americans don't get enough vitamin E through their diet.

Interestingly, vitamin E seems to be more effective when combined with vitamin C (ref).

Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy (ref).

A deficiency in vitamin C is rare these days, but common symptoms include dry, rough and scaly skin that tends to bruise easily.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that protects your skin from oxidative damage — caused by the sun and the environment — which can lead to signs of aging (ref).

A 100-gram serving, or about 1/2 an avocado, provides 10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin E and 17% of the RDI for vitamin C (ref).


10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth.

Research has shown that it may help prevent many common diseases associated with aging.

It lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps prevent metabolic syndrome and may be effective in fighting cancer (ref, ref).

Olive oil may also help your skin look younger. Animal and lab studies suggest it has strong anti-inflammatory effects on the skin and may protect it from sun damage (ref).

Additionally, nearly 73% of olive oil consists of mono-unsaturated fat, which is associated with increased skin elasticity and firmness (ref).

Two studies looked at food records and questionnaires completed by middle-aged and older adults. They found that those with the highest intake of monounsaturated fat from olive oil were least likely to have severe sun damage (ref, ref).


References:
  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-to-look-younger
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322986.php
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-foods-for-healthy-skin

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