Everyone has heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’. This is not only true in regards to weight loss and susceptibility to illness and disease, but it is also vitally important in regards to your skin. This organ is often forgotten, however, it is one of the first affected by what you eat.

A variety of studies are emerging as researchers are learning more about diet and the effects it has on the skin. It is becoming increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect skin-aging (1)(2). In this article, we will outline 9 foods you should be eating for healthy, radiant, glowing skin.

1. Avocado 

An Avocado

Many health gurus swear by avocados and avocado oil, and the amazing benefits they have. They are high in healthy fats which benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin (3). Getting enough of these fats is essential to help keep skin flexible and moisturised. One study on the diet and skin aging in women found that a high intake of healthy fats such as those found in avocados was associated with more supple skin, and reduced the appearance of wrinkles (4).

Avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of both vitamins C and E. This is very beneficial for those looking to enhance their skin health as recent studies have found vitamin E  to be very effective when combined with vitamin C (5). The abundance of vitamins C and E in avocados can help boost the production of collagen, soothe inflammation, and lift away old skin cells. Moreover, vitamin E in avocados has also been found to help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging (6).

2. Walnuts

bowl of walnuts

Similar to avocados, walnuts are a good source of essential fatty acids. In fact, they contain higher amounts of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than most other nuts (7). This is important because omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, whereas omega-3 fatty acids are rarer. Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body — including in your skin (8). Fatty acids are not produced by the body, and so it is important to consume it regularly in your diet.

Moreover, walnuts contain other essential minerals such as zinc that your skin needs to stay healthy. Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as an external barrier (9), as well as support the regeneration of healthy skin, and fight bacteria and inflammation (10). One study also found that these minerals within walnuts repaired damage within the skin and enhanced the elasticity of photo-aged skin (11).

3. Cacao

Cacao powder in a tin

The effects of cacao on the skin are pretty amazing, as it is naturally a rich source of skin-loving flavanols and antioxidants (12)(13), and there have been numerous studies to suggest these benefits. One study conducted on the effects of consuming a cacao-based drink found that after 6–12 weeks, participants experienced thicker, more hydrated skin (14). In addition, the high flavanol content within cacao provided powerful protection against UV rays (15). It has been suggested that eating just 20g of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate (16).

Research has also found cacao to have 4x the amount of antioxidants of goji berries, 80x the antioxidants of green tea, and 15x antioxidants of blueberries. Antioxidants are vital for healthy skin as they boost collagen production, help neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals on the skin, improves circulation to the skin, as well as increases oxygen and blood flow to the skin – factors that are vital in maintaining healthy-looking skin (17).

4. Moringa 

moringa powder

We have previously written a post on moringa, and the fantastic benefits of this super leaf!

Moringa is jam-packed with the skin-loving nutrients and has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food (18). The leaves of moringa are rich in minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, and phytochemicals, in addition to vitamins A, C, D, and E.

Phytochemicals such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and saponins are in rich supply in moringa. Saponins​ have antibacterial properties, as well as anti-cancer potential​ in the skin, whilst flavonoids and alkaloids may provide anti-inflammatory and UV protective benefits (19).  In fact, it has been found that​ alkaloids can improve the appearance of the skin in people with mild to moderate rosacea​. ​​​A recent study showed that after 30 days of using a cream containing alkaloids,​ 50% of people reported an improvement in the appearance of their skin​ (20)

The zinc and iron within moringa also greatly contribute to its anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.  ​​This makes it a great acne treatment as it may help relieve some of the redness and irritation associated with moderate-to-severe acne, and help reduce the appearance of acne scars.​ Zinc has also been used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, including​ ​melasma, ​seborrheic dermatitis​, and ​eczema with positive results. ​Moreover, iron-containing proteins within moringa have specific functions such as the metabolism of collagen (21). A deficiency in this mineral includes symptoms such as an unhealthy pale appearance of the skin, itchy skin, and a predisposition to skin infections (22).

The topical application of moringa has shown to be very beneficial for the skin. A study on the use of creams infused with moringa extract found that moringa enhances skin revitalisation and supports anti-aging skin effects by increasing skin volume, texture, brightness, and smoothness, as well as helps smooths out fine lines and wrinkles (23).

Moringa is an excellent addition to the diet and a brilliant food source for healthy radiant skin.

5. Baobab

Baobab Powder

Baobab is a brilliant food source for glowing skin as it contains a high amount of vitamin C. This makes it perfect for dry and uneven skin. ​Without vitamin C, the levels of fatty acid on the surface of the skin​, as well as ​collagen levels ​(the main structural protein which keep skin youthful, elastic, and wrinkle-free(24) (25))​ will decrease.​ This can cause uneven skin tone and dry skin that is prone to wrinkles. Vitamin C has good anti-inflammatory, and tissue healing properties, as well as decreases melanin synthesis in the skin (26), making it excellent in reducing hyperpigmentation, treating acne-prone skin, and helping prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (27)(28)

Baobab powder is a nutrition powerhouse when it comes to vitamin C as it has 10 times more vitamin C than oranges, as well as 20 times the antioxidants of green tea and more than blueberries and pomegranates combined (29)(30). The perfect superfood for skin!

6. Broccoli

Broccoli in a bowl

Broccoli is packed full of vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including lutein, an antioxidant that helps to reduce skin blemishes, improve overall skin tone, and protects your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled (31).

They also contain a special compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a powerful protective agent against sun damage and may have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer (32)(33). It does this by switching on protective systems in your body (34)(35). Additionally, there has been some evidence to suggest that sulforaphane may also help maintain collagen levels in your skin (36).

7. Green Tea

Green tea set

Powerful compounds found in green tea called catechins work to improve the health of your skin in several ways, including reducing skin redness and soothing skin irritation (37), reducing skin inflammation, and slowing down the skin aging process (38). Studies have also found topical green tea to be an effective remedy for many dermatological conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and keloids due to its anti-inflammatory properties (39)(40). Additionally, the polyphenols in green tea help to fight against infection, and reduce excess sebum secretion, both of which can cause acne (41).

Like several of the other antioxidant-containing foods noted above, green tea can also help protect your skin against sun damage in addition to improving the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of skin (42).

8. Red Grapes 

Red Grapes

Grapes contain a high amount of resveratrol, a compound that has a range of benefits including antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties (43). In relation to the skin, resveratrol works under the skin by stimulating the growth of healthy skin cells. More skin cells encourage the uptake of skin-loving nutrients such as collagen and retinol. Resveratrol also contains key skin-calming properties that help minimise the look of redness and inflammation (44).

9. Water 

pouring water

Drinking more water is one of the simplest and quickest ways to keep skin glowing, radiant, and functioning at its best.  How much you need to drink varies depending on the person, but drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day (2-2.5 litres) can have a positive effect on the health of your skin.

Final thoughts

skin care

What you eat can significantly affect your skin health. A lack of the right nutrients may result in premature aging, wrinkling, and loss of elasticity in the skin. The foods listed are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and glowing.

Shop for Moringa, Cacao, & Baobab powders here

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