Despite all of the powerful active ingredients in skincare, topicals can only do so much for your skin. Turns out, what you eat can have a major impact on your complexion. Your diet can cause acne, dullness, dryness, oiliness, or even dark under-eye circles. To help, we rounded up the best foods for your skin. Incorporating these superfoods into your diet can help support healthy, clear, and glowing skin. While not all of these individual foods have been studied specifically for skin, the nutrients and properties they have have been studied extensively. Read on to see the 12 best foods for skin.
How Are These Foods Good For Your Skin?
There’s been an increase in research concerning the link between your diet and your skin in recent years. How dairy can cause acne, for example, is just one example of how what you eat can negatively impact your complexion. A diet focused on lean proteins, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables is best for supporting healthy skin. That’s because these foods tend to contain two very important nutrients:
- Amino Acids: Also known as the building blocks of skin, help build proteins. “In the context of skin health, amino acids are required for the production of collagen, the most abundant protein in the skin and body,” explains Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, HUM’s educational specialist. “Collagen helps the skin look plump and youthful by promoting structure and elasticity.”
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress (which creates an imbalance of skin damaging free radicals) and can help right inflammation. “Antioxidants help protect the skin against damage that can occur from free radicals,” Vaca-Flores says. “This is especially important because free radical damage can break down collagen and lead to early signs of visible skin aging.”
The Best Foods For Skin
So what foods are good for your skin? Choosing the best food for healthy skin is simple with this guide, which contains 12 superfoods that can seriously improve your complexion. Add these into your diet for brighter, clearer, and firmer skin.
Over 60 percent of your skin is made up of water, which is why hydration is key. Drinking enough water helps replenish water in the skin cells to lock in moisture, creating a soft, plump, and glowing look. “Staying hydrated is important for a number of bodily functions including toxin elimination and gut health, both of which are important for healthy skin,” Vaca-Flores adds. In addition, choosing water typically also means foregoing something else, such as sugar-packed juices and sodas. High blood sugar levels are known to be harmful to collagen, which keeps skin firm and elastic.
Collagen is the main structural protein that forms connective tissue throughout our body and skin. But as we age, our collagen levels start to decrease, which leads to loss of volume and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. “Since collagen levels naturally decrease as we age, it can be helpful to add collagen to your daily routine,” Vaca-Flores says. “Consuming collagen, whether from food or supplements, can help give your skin added elasticity which translates into supple-looking skin.” You can get this nutrient from fish, meat, bone broth, or a supplement. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements for several months can improve skin elasticity and signs of aging. Try adding a daily supplement to your routine, like HUM Nutrition’s Collagen Love to help give your skin a boost.
One of the very best foods for skin? Berries. More specifically, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. These dark berries are packed with skin-loving nutrients including antioxidants, phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Together, all of these nutrients protect and support the health of skin cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which break down the collagen in skin resulting in dark spots, dullness, wrinkling, and fine lines. Phytonutrients, on the other hand, have been shown to protect your skin in the same way sunscreen does: reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Similarly, studies have found that flavonoids help fight inflammation caused by free radicals (research has found that carotenoids work the same way, too!). By eliminating free radicals in your system, berries help support and protect your skin’s collagen levels, which supports firm, glowing skin.
4. Almonds and Brazil Nuts
Almonds and Brazil nuts are packed with nutrients that support hydrated, glowing skin. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which helps to hydrate the skin from the inside out and has proven anti-inflammatory benefits as well as zinc. Brazil nuts have high levels of selenium, which fights against oxidative damage caused by free radicals to help maintain collagen levels—leading to brighter, tighter skin. “Zinc plays a role in collagen synthesis and DNA repair while selenium can help maintain skin health by shielding it from sun damage,” Vaca-Flores says. “Almonds and brazil nuts both deliver high amounts of both of these nutrients.” Add almonds or brazil nuts to any salads, smoothies, or grain bowls.
Beets are commonly touted for their ability to help athletic performance (one study found that drinking beetroot juice improved the performance of trained soccer players). But beetroot has other benefits too. High in vitamin A, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E, beetroot can help the skin, too. All of these antioxidants protect the skin by neutralizing free radicals, which can cause wrinkles, dullness, and sagging.
Ah, kale. The internet’s favorite superfood. Turns out, the leafy green lives up to the hype. Packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, and quercetin, this superfood is an antioxidant superstar. “Like many leafy greens, kale packs many important nutrients for skin health,” Vaca-Flores says. “Some of these nutrients include vitamins C and E, which are both regarded as some of the best antioxidants for skin protection and vitality.” Kale has one of veggies’ highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). That means kale could have the ability to fight off signs of aging caused by free radicals, such as loss of firmness or development of fine lines and wrinkles. Add this veggie into your smoothies or grain bowls.
“The healthy fats and vitamins that avocados pack can help add hydration to the skin and promote a more even skin tone,” Vaca-Flores says. “Avocados also contain compounds that help shield the skin against sun damage and breakouts.” Between vitamin E to boost skin vitality and luminosity, vitamin C to reduce inflammation, and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids to maintain moisture in the epidermis, avocados are an amazing superfood for all-around skin health. Want to reap the benefits of this delicious food? Try this anti-aging smoothie recipe, developed by an RD.
Another superfood for skin is broccoli. The green veggie has vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and K to rejuvenate skin for a brighter, glowing complexion. Omega-3 fatty acids also support skin cell function for firmness and smoothness. Psst: Broccoli is one of the best detox foods you have, as it helps to support your body’s natural detoxification pathways and eliminate waste from your digestive tract, which can also benefit skin.
9. Green tea
While green tea-infused skincare products can give your skin a little boost, drinking a cup of green tea regularly will also lead to significant improvements in your complexion. With well-documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea polyphenols fight free radicals and prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and the loss of elasticity in the skin.
Eating fish is an effective way to boost your omega-3 intake. “These types of omegas can help reduce redness, ease breakouts, and add hydration to the skin,” Vaca-Flores says. “Cold-water, oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines will deliver the most omega-3 fatty acids.” Tiny pure fish are low in impurities (read: mercury) and also packed with omega-3 DHA and EPA. Omega-3 has been shown to help fight acne and support healthy, glowing skin. Not into eating fish? Take an omega-3 supplement, like HUM Nutrition’s OMG! Omega The Great, instead. It’s full of skin-loving omega-3, EPA, DHA, and Vitamin E.
11. Chia Seeds
Another super source of omega-3? Chia seeds. Sprinkling these little seeds into your breakfast bowls or smoothies means you’re getting one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 supports clear skin and fights dullness to unlock your smoothest, most radiant skin. Work these into smoothies, oatmeal bowls, or parfaits for a healthy, glowing complexion.
Sun exposure, pollution, or smoke can all cause free radicals to form. As a result, you might experience dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of volume. But antioxidants fight these free radicals (and the damage they cause)—which is why tomatoes are a skin superfood. They contain an extremely high amount of antioxidants, including a particularly powerful one called lycopene. Research shows that cooking tomatoes increases the absorption of lycopene, so add pasta with tomato sauce or homemade chili to your rotation for brighter, smoother skin.