When it comes to your skin, you are what you eat. While skin health has been promoted endlessly in terms of creams, salves, Sun-smarts, etc., the role that foods play in keeping your skin soft, smooth, and radiant has been given somewhat less attention. However, the skin is an organ just like any other, and most foods that are healthy for your body are also healthy for your skin. Load up on these nutritious, skin-healthy foods and avoid the bad ones!
Tomatoes are full of lycopene, which is a phytochemical that aids in destroying free radicals, harmful compounds that are produced by, among other things, exposure to sunlight. Molecules such as lycopene help protect from sun damage.
Carotenoids are orange-yellow plant pigments that, in addition to improving your eyesight, are stored directly beneath the surface of your skin. This pigment can give your skin that healthy glow without getting a tan. Foods high in carotenoids include mangoes, papaya, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Oily fishes such as salmon and tuna are extremely rich in omega fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in cell membrane structure, helping to keep cells rigid and properly hydrated. This gives your skin a vibrant, rejuvenated look. In addition, tuna is an excellent source of selenium, which is a key component of the protein elastin, which maintains the elastic properties of skin cells, keeping them smooth and tight.
Almonds are packed with vitamin E, as well as monounsaturated (healthy) fats that, in addition to maintaining good cholesterol levels, helps maintain the structure of skin cells. Almonds and other tree nuts are also an excellent source of protein, which is needed to sustain cell processes and promote regeneration.
Regular consumption of spinach has been linked to a significant reduction in the occurrence of skin tumors. This may be because spinach is loaded with compounds such as folate, lutein, and potassium, which aid in DNA repair. When you are over-exposed to sunlight, the DNA in your skin cells is damaged by UV rays. This makes DNA repair essential for the prevention of skin cancer later in life. Spinach is also an excellent source of iron, which helps maintain proper blood health and circulation, thus furnishing the skin cells with better sources of oxygen and nutrients.
Flax seed is a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids function in cell membranes to attract water and keep it within the cells. This in turn keeps the cells plump and hydrated, which smoothes wrinkles and promotes a healthy look.
While excessive consumption of chocolate, especially commercial milk chocolate brands, will provide an excess of fat and sugar that will be a detriment to your skin health, moderate consumption of pure or high-percentage chocolate or cocoa powder provides an excellent source of flavanoids, powerful anti-oxidants that protect against sun damage and smooth the skin. Other good sources of flavanoids include black and green teas.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and most every berry are loaded with anti-oxidants, which protect the skin against damage from a variety of sources.
When planning a skin-healthy diet, try to avoid the following foods or consume them in moderation:
Foods with high sugar content (candy, soda and other sweetened drinks, etc.)
Saturated fats and hydrogenated oils