You are what you eat. Was mom right all along? Science says so.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 supports this long-held belief. The British researchers examined whether the food people eat affects the way their skin looks, and the results were clear: Those who ate more bad fats and simple sugars, such as packaged snack foods (chips, cookies, etc.) and white bread, had more pronounced wrinkles later in life compared to people who ate a diet rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps the body build skin-supporting collagen.
There have been many other studies since then to support the connection between healthy food and youthful-looking skin. A 2010 study in Japanese women published in the Journal of Nutrition found that a diet high with healthy fats was associated with greater skin elasticity–that flexibility that makes your skin look tight.
Hungry for more? We asked reader Bailey Brown, a skincare aficando who is studying holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, to help us uncover five easy-to-find foods with ample skin-helping benefits. Her grocery list includes:
Why? A cup of kiwifruit offers more than double your daily need for vitamin C! Officially speaking, your “daily need” is referred to as RDA: Recommended Daily Allowance. One study found that kiwi can double collagen synthesis in the skin, and to a lesser degree, stimulate fibroblast growth, which helps build stronger skin that is less likely to show lines.
Runner Up: Oranges.
2. Wild Salmon
Why? Salmon is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, a cholesterol-lowering healthy fat that is primarily known for preventing heart disease. In the skin, its anti-inflammatory power helps to prevent redness and wrinkle development. Sunlight is the main trigger for inflammation in the skin. Healthy fats also aid with keeping skin supple, so if if you have dry, flaky skin, go fish!
Runner Up: Walnuts.
Why? Whole eggs contain the amino acid lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid best known for eye health, as it can prevent and, to some extent, reverse vision loss. In the skin, lutein works to fend off free radical damage as well as increase skin elasticity. Eggs are an anti-aging superhero, and that’s no yolk!
Runner Up: Kale.
4. Tomatoes (cooked)
Why? Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent against the sun damage that contributes to wrinkles, acne, red and brown spots, and skin cancer. Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body after it is processed with heat, so stock up on canned tomato paste and add it to soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Runner Up: Watermelon.
Why? Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, a holy grail anti-aging ingredient. Vitamin A helps repair skin tissue and protects against free radical damage from the sun and environment.
Runner Up: Sweet potatoes.