Shavonne Morrison, MS, RD, LD, shares the best high-collagen foods to add to your diet. And later: additional foods for collagen production.
Collagen supplements have long been growing in popularity. You may have seen them popping up at your local grocery store or favorite beauty retailer—but did you know that you can also eat foods that are high in collagen?
Before we get to specific foods high in collagen content, let’s first discuss what collagen is and what it’s good for.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein abundant in the body. One of its main functions is to aid the largest organ in your body: your skin.
However, it’s also found in joints and ligaments, where it contributes to their elasticity as well. This elasticity is important for you to be able to move comfortably and have flexibility.
As we age, collagen production naturally decreases, which can lead to:
- dull skin
- less flexibility
What is collagen good for?
While getting enough collagen is just one way to prevent the effects of aging, it’s an important one to keep in mind.
In fact, a 2015 study states that getting enough collagen in your diet can delay skin aging and promote joint health. This applies long-term as well, so it seems prevention is key when it comes to maintaining these facets of health and beauty.
Other studies cite similar data: One states that getting enough collagen enhances facial skin moisture and elasticity. It also notes improvements in wrinkles and skin texture.
Another study specifically examining collagen supplements presents similar results. After just 12 weeks, participants had improvements in skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles.
How to Boost Collagen Production Through Diet
In terms of nutrition, there are two primary factors involved in increasing collagen in your body:
- consistently eating foods high in collagen
- consuming foods that promote collagen synthesis
If you want firm, supple skin and healthy joints, read on to see which foods are high in collagen so you can integrate them into your diet.
The Top 5 High-Collagen Foods
Collagen is abundant in animal products since it’s part of an animal’s connective tissues. However, some plants contain collagen, as well.
That said, here are the best foods that are naturally high in collagen content.
1. bone broth
By far, one of the richest sources of collagen protein is bone broth.
Typically, bone broth is made by taking—well, bones—and cooking them in water for several hours. In doing so, nutrients including glycine and collagen are extracted from the bones.
You can use bone broth in place of standard broth in soups and stews to boost the nutrient content. You can also enjoy it solo, sipped as a hot beverage.
Bonus: Bone broth has tremendous benefits for gut health, as well!
You probably know that eggs are high in protein. However, what you may not know is that egg whites are particularly high in the amino acids glycine and proline, both of which are necessary to create collagen in the body.
Consuming eggs regularly can provide your body with the building blocks of collagen. So however you enjoy your eggs, know that they’re contributing to your glow!
Meats—especially red meats including beef, pork, and lamb—are among the best high-collagen foods.
These animals have lots of connective tissue that requires collagen for the same reason humans have it: It helps them move their muscles properly. (Fun fact: Tougher cuts of meat are tough because they have more collagen in them.)
Including these meats in your diet can help improve your collagen intake. If you’re concerned that the collagen itself is “cooking out,” it turns into gelatin when it’s heated. Plus, the meat still contains the amino acids necessary for your body to create collagen, so don’t worry!
Like other animal products, fish has connective tissues and bones that contain collagen.
Marine collagen peptides (MCPs) come from fish skin and scales. Research shows that fish collagen has similar benefits to beef collagen in terms of its pro-aging benefits. Interestingly, some sources say that collagen from fish absorbs better than that from meat.
Those who are eco-conscious may also be pleased to know that this type of collagen may be better for the environment, as well. That’s because using fish skin and scales to produce marine collagen can reduce waste and pollution.
A less commonly consumed source of gelatin is the algae spirulina.
It’s a good source of protein, which means it also contains amino acids. Which amino acids, you ask? You guessed it: Glycine and proline, which (as we learned above) make up collagen.
Spirulina is available in powder or capsule form.
Other Foods for Collagen Production
Eating foods that are high in collagen is great—but what’s even better is supporting your body’s natural process of creating it.
Collagen production starts by combining a few key nutrients to make procollagen:
- vitamin C
Eating these important nutrients will increase the collagen your body makes. Zinc also supports collagen function, so load up on high-zinc foods, too!
Foods High in Vitamin C
- bell pepper
Foods High in Proline + Glycine
- pumpkin seeds
Foods High in Zinc
- lean meats
- soy products
- nuts + seeds
Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
It’s always important to aim to get specific nutrients from whole foods. This ensures you reap all the nutritious benefits these foods have to offer. However, many find it convenient to take supplements to make sure they meet their health and wellness goals.
Enter: high-quality collagen supplements.
Products such as HUM’s Collagen Pop are a fun way to boost your beauty routine and help you get enough collagen. Plus, it packs the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, which not only increases collagen synthesis, but also combats free radical damage from sun exposure. All said, it’s a win-win for your skin.
Prefer capsules? Opt for Collagen Love.
The Bottom Line
Consuming the best high-collagen foods—along with foods that boost collagen production—will give your body all of the tools it needs to create high-quality collagen.
From there, if you’d like to ensure that you’re reaping all of the benefits of collagen on a consistent basis, consider supplementing your diet.
With these insights in mind, you can be proactive about the health of your skin—as well as your joints—for years to come.