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