Skin Care

10 top foods for skin health

The saying ‘you are what you eat’ certainly rings true when it comes to the condition of your skin.
MoleMap Team
November 16, 2023
10 minutes

The stronger and health­i­er your skin, the less sus­cep­ti­ble it can be to the signs of aging, such as wrin­kles and sunspots.

We’ve com­piled our top 10 foods for skin health below — aim to eat these foods reg­u­lar­ly as part of a healthy diet to keep your skin more resilient and radi­ant. Additionally, remember the importance of regular visits to skin cancer clinics for skin check and full body mole check to maintain optimal skin health.

Read on to feast your eyes (and taste­buds) on these amaz­ing, nutri­ent-rich foods.

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The top 10 foods for healthy skin

1. Green Tea

Green tea (also known as matcha) is some­thing of a super­star when it comes to skin thanks to its won­der­ful heal­ing prop­er­ties. Green tea is not only high in antiox­i­dants (which can reduce the amount of free rad­i­cals in your body), it’s also a great detox­i­fi­er for the skin.

Green tea con­tains vit­a­min B2 (riboflavin), which has the abil­i­ty to aid cell turnover, main­tain col­la­gen lev­els and speed wound heal­ing.1 It also boasts sooth­ing, anti-inflam­ma­to­ry and antibac­te­r­i­al prop­er­ties, help­ing to reduce irri­ta­tion, red­ness and swelling as well as unclog­ging pores and treat­ing acne.2

What’s more, a 2003 study showed that the antiox­i­dant EGCG, which is abun­dant in green tea, has the abil­i­ty to repair dying skin cells — help­ing to com­bat the signs of aging and make dull skin look health­i­er.3

Green tea is a great low­er-caf­feine alter­na­tive to cof­fee, so drink a cup — or even bet­ter, sev­er­al cups — every day if you can. Your smoother, more radi­ant skin will reap the benefits!

Green tea
Green tea is high in antiox­i­dants and is a great detoxifier.

2. Avo­ca­dos

Yes, avo­ca­dos are high in fat, but it’s a ​‘good fat’! A Japan­ese study found that a high intake of total fat — specif­i­cal­ly the types of healthy fats found in avo­ca­dos — was asso­ci­at­ed with improved skin elas­tic­i­ty.4

Packed with 19 vit­a­mins, nutri­ents and phy­tonu­tri­ents, avo­ca­dos are a nutri­ent-dense fruit that play a major role in healthy diets, includ­ing vit­a­mins E and C. 6 Vit­a­min C helps to cre­ate col­la­gen to keep skin healthy and strong, while Vit­a­min E can help pro­tect your skin from oxida­tive dam­age. 7

All good rea­sons to eat plen­ty of these gor­geous green fruit! Aim to eat around half an avo­ca­do a day to help keep your skin flex­i­ble, mois­turised and ​‘glowy’.

Avo­ca­dos improve skin elas­tic­i­ty and keeps your skin healthy and strong.

3. Blue­ber­ries

The not-so-hum­ble blue­ber­ry has one of the high­est antiox­i­dant con­tents of all foods, includ­ing antho­cyani (which gives blue­ber­ries their colour), as well as vit­a­mins C, E, A and B com­plex, zinc, iron, sele­ni­um and copper.

Along with boost­ing your immune sys­tem, antiox­i­dants can help to neu­tralise the effect of free rad­i­cals in the body, help­ing cells to prop­er­ly detox­i­fy and repair dam­age, which in turn helps reduce the signs of aging.8

The nutri­ents in blue­ber­ries can also help to com­bat acne, reduce inflam­ma­tion and strength­en the cap­il­lar­ies just beneath the skin to pro­tect against spi­der veins. 9 Try adding one or two cups of fresh or frozen blue­ber­ries to your diet each day – with cere­al or por­ridge, in smooth­ies or desserts or sim­ply as a snack with yoghurt. Also aim to include straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, black­ber­ries and goji berries.

Try adding blue­ber­ries to your diet each day to boost your immune system.

4. Nuts

Nuts def­i­nite­ly rank among the best foods for skin health, as they con­tain zinc, mag­ne­sium and sele­ni­um, all of which are help­ful for wound heal­ing. Almonds con­tain a potent dose of B vit­a­mins (riboflavin and niacin), as well as zinc, pro­tein and healthy dietary fat. They’re also rich in vit­a­min E, a pow­er­ful anti-oxi­dant that’s known to help neu­tralise dam­ag­ing free rad­i­cals in the body and is often used in skin health prod­ucts.10

Wal­nuts are also lit­tle bites of good­ness when it comes to skin. They’re a rich source of essen­tial fat­ty acids (EFAs), a ​‘good fat’ that’s often lack­ing in West­ern diets and can pro­mote reduced inflam­ma­tion in your body, includ­ing your skin.11 Wal­nuts are also rich in zinc, which is essen­tial for your skin to func­tion prop­er­ly as a bar­ri­er, heal wounds and com­bat bac­te­ria and inflam­ma­tion.12 So unless you have an aller­gy or intol­er­ance, it’s okay to go nuts on nuts!

Add nuts and seeds to your sal­ads or sprin­kle them on your smooth­ies or por­ridge to com­bat inflammation.

5. Seeds

Seeds are a great way of get­ting more nutri­ents and essen­tial trace min­er­als, espe­cial­ly pump­kin, sun­flower and lin­seeds (flaxseeds). Pump­kin seeds are an excel­lent source of zinc, which plays an impor­tant part in keep­ing your skin radi­ant and healthy, help­ing to build new and healthy skin cells and repair­ing dam­aged skin.13

Sun­flower seeds also chock-full of nutri­ents, includ­ing pro­tec­tive fat­ty oils and sub­stan­tial amounts of zinc and vit­a­min E, which may help to pro­tect skin cells and pro­mote health­i­er skin.14

Flaxseeds are anoth­er great seed to include in your diet as they’re rich in an omega‑3 fat­ty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A 2011 study found that female par­tic­i­pants with sen­si­tive skin who took a flaxseed oil sup­ple­ment for 12 weeks expe­ri­enced reduced skin sen­si­tiv­i­ty and rough­ness, increased hydra­tion and smoother skin.15

Try adding baked or raw seeds into sal­ads, enjoy them as an ener­gy-boost­ing snack or sprin­kle an LSA blend (ground lin­seeds, sun­flower seeds and almonds) onto yoghurt, por­ridge or cere­al, or into smoothies.

6. Leafy green vegetables

There’s a good rea­son your Mum told you to ​‘eat your greens’. Dark leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard are high in fibre and are also one of the top sources of beta carotene, a pow­er­ful antiox­i­dant that can help to repair and renew the skin, giv­ing it a more radi­ant glow.

Spinach is also chock-full of beta-carotene, as well lutein, potas­si­um, fiber and folate – an essen­tial B vit­a­min that helps main­tain and repair DNA.16 Try adding dark, leafy greens to smooth­ies, sal­ads, sand­wich­es, wraps, omelettes, you name it – to give your skin a boost from the inside out.

Leafy green vegetables
Kale is high in fibre and a pow­er­ful antioxidant.

7. Lemons

There are lots of rea­sons to love lemons. They’re packed with nutri­ents includ­ing vit­a­min C, B‑complex vit­a­mins, cal­ci­um, iron, mag­ne­sium, potas­si­um and fibre. Their high lev­els of vit­a­min C is great for boost­ing your immune sys­tem and essen­tial for the for­ma­tion of col­la­gen, which helps to keep skin firmer, health­i­er and younger-look­ing.17

A squeeze of lemon juice in a large glass of cold or hot water can be a great way to kick-start your sys­tem in the morn­ing.18 Lemon and water advo­cates swear by this rit­u­al and that it can help to aid diges­tion, detox­i­fy your sys­tem, and decrease blem­ish­es and wrin­kles.19 Try adding lemon juice or grat­ed rind to sal­ads, stir-fries or desserts and of course, it pairs per­fect­ly with green tea – see above!

Add lemon to your water to kick­start your sys­tem in the morning.

8. Beta carotene

All veg­gies are packed with good­ness, but many are also brim­ming with beta carotene, a plant pig­ment that gives red, orange, and yel­low fruit and veg­eta­bles their vibrant colour. Also called ​‘carotenoids’ (named after car­rots), these antiox­i­dants have have many health ben­e­fits – with a US study show­ing that carotenoids can to help pro­tect the skin from dam­age caused by free rad­i­cals and help main­tain skin health and appear­ance.20

Rich sources of these pro­tec­tive antiox­i­dants include car­rots, man­gos, papayas, yams, kumara/​sweet pota­toes and bell pep­pers – so do your skin a favour by mak­ing your meals as (nat­u­ral­ly) colour­ful as possible.

Beta carotene
Nat­u­ral­ly pig­ment­ed veg­eta­bles are full of antiox­i­dants — make your meals nat­u­ral­ly colourful.

9. Water

Tech­ni­cal­ly not a food, but plen­ty of H20 is soooo impor­tant to skin health! Even mild dehy­dra­tion will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slight­ly grey. Try to drink six to eight glass­es of water a day – or herbal, caf­feine-free teas – all flu­ids count towards your dai­ly allowance, but water is the best.

Some fruit and veg­eta­bles, such as water­mel­on, rock­mel­on, cour­gette and cucum­ber, also con­tribute flu­ids as well as min­er­als to speed up the hydra­tion of your body and skin.

10. Dark chocolate

We’ve saved the best news for last! Good qual­i­ty dark choco­late ual­i­ty dark choco­late with a high cacao may also be ben­e­fi­cial in pro­tect­ing the skin. A pre­lim­i­nary study in 2014 not­ed that antiox­i­dants found in cocoa may help to pro­tect the skin from the inside by neu­tral­is­ing oxida­tive stress, a major fac­tor of der­mal struc­ture dete­ri­o­ra­tion and pre­ma­ture skin aging.21

So go on, reach for that piece of choco­late and know that you’re doing your­self some good!

Dark chocolate
Qual­i­ty dark choco­late with a high cacao may neu­tralise oxida­tive stress.

What foods not to eat for skin health?

On the flip side, some foods seem to be asso­ci­at­ed with skin dam­age. For exam­ple, research sug­gests that a diet high in processed or refined sug­ars, refined car­bo­hy­drates (not com­plex car­bo­hy­drates like those found in pota­toes or legumes) and unhealthy fats pro­motes skin aging and acne, as well as oth­er health prob­lems. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate these effects and contribute to overall skin health concerns.

Remem­ber, many of the best foods for healthy skin also pro­mote good health over­all. So focus on eat­ing a healthy and var­ied diet in gen­er­al, with plen­ty of fruits, veg­eta­bles, nuts, seeds and whole grain breads with low amounts of processed sug­ar. Your skin will thank you for it!

Refined sug­ars and car­bo­hy­drates pro­motes skin aging and acne.

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Sun­screen and skin health

Again, it’s not a food, but sun­screen is one of the most impor­tant things you can do to keep your skin healthy. Apply­ing a wide-brimmed hat, sun­glass­es and a broad-spec­trum sun­screen of at least SPF30+ every day can not only help to reduce the ear­ly signs of aging such as wrin­kles and sunspots, it can also help reduce your risk of all types of skin can­cer, includ­ing melanoma, in lat­er life.

Whether you’re con­sid­ered to have a high or low skin can­cer (check your risk here), no one wants to end up with pre­ma­ture­ly aging skin, so stay Sun­Smart when­ev­er you’re outdoors.

It’s impor­tant that you choose the right type of sun­screen to suit your skin to avoid unnec­es­sary break-outs, irri­ta­tion or aller­gies — check out our arti­cle on the top sun­screens for dif­fer­ent skin types.

Sun­screen of at least SPF30+ every day can help to reduce the ear­ly signs of aging.

MoleMap Team

At MoleMap we check, detect and treat skin cancer. Find out how you can protect your skin at your nearest MoleMap skin cancer clinic.

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