From beauty supplements, to expensive products and extravagant treatments, it seems like everyone is looking for ways to boost the health of their hair, skin, and nails. While all of these things may help, many of us forget about one of the most basic things we can do—eating a healthy diet.
Following a well-balanced diet, specifically one that includes foods that are rich in antioxidants, is one of the most effective ways we can nourish our bodies from the inside out (literally!).
Antioxidants are compounds produced in the body that help to protect cells from damage. Damage from what? Well, from harmful molecules, which are called free radicals. When free radicals accumulate, this leads to oxidative stress—which has the potential to damage your DNA and important cell structures, including skin cells.
Oxidative stress can harm the skin and accelerate the aging process. This leads to fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation. In chronic cases, it can lead to diseases and even cancer.
Luckily, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help to protect your skin and your overall health. Scientists have done a lot of research on the antioxidant levels in different foods. This knowledge means we can essentially eat our way to healthier hair, skin, and nails.
Read along to learn about 10 antioxidant-rich foods you can start incorporating into your diet today:
Kale is one of the most nutritious greens you can eat. This vegetable is rich in vitamins A, K, and C, which are essential vitamins for skin health. Kale is also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help to repair the skin from sun damage and environmental stressors. As a result, this can slow the aging process.
Another benefit of kale is that it’s rich in calcium, a mineral that helps to maintain bone health and support other cellular functions, such as new skin cell regeneration. Next time you’re making a salad or smoothie, consider adding in a handful of this leafy green.
Turns out that avocado toast isn’t only Instagrammable—avocados offer amazing skin benefits!
High in poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids, avocados play a role in keeping the skin hydrated and firm. The fruit has also been shown to calm irritation and redness, protect the skin from sun damage, and fight harmful free radicals.
Avocados contain vitamin E, which may improve hair growth. In fact, a recent study found that people who suffered from hair loss experienced 34.5% more hair growth after taking a vitamin E supplement over the course of eight months.
Not only are avocados loaded with antioxidants themselves, but they also aid in antioxidant absorption. Antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, so consuming them with a healthy fat like avocado can aid in antioxidant absorption.
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries all provide incredible health benefits—especially for the skin.
For example, blueberries offer the highest amount of antioxidants among all commonly consumed fruits and veggies. These antioxidants help to fight cell-damaging free radicals that lead to premature aging. Plus, a 2019 study found that eating one cup of blueberries each day can improve your body’s ability to send nutrients and oxygen to your skin and other cells, allowing for quicker and more efficient cell turnover—leading to healthier skin.
Strawberries are also full of antioxidants, offering 5.4 mmol per 3.5 ounces. These sweet red berries also contain vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and folate, which may help to fight off oxidative stress and inflammation.
Raspberries and blackberries are also amazing sources of vitamin C, which can prevent signs of aging, heal damaged skin, and even reduce dark spots and the appearance of wrinkles.
A handful of nuts makes the perfect healthy snack when you’re on the go. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants known as polyphenols, which fight oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
Specifically, the antioxidants found in walnuts and almonds have been shown to protect the delicate fats in your cells from being damaged by oxidation. Pistachios, Brazil nuts, almonds, and walnuts have also been shown to fight inflammation.
In addition, nuts are full of vitamins and minerals like zinc, copper, and vitamins A, C, and E, which can aid in supporting healthy skin. They’re also a great source of protein—one ounce of mixed nuts contains five grams! Eating enough protein each day is essential for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Turmeric is known to bring out the skin’s natural glow. This bright, yellow-orange spice is loaded with antioxidants and also fights inflammation, which can make the skin appear puffy and dull. It’s even been associated with hair growth and has become an increasingly popular ingredient in supplements targeted toward hair thinning.
This spice has a very pungent flavor, but there are plenty of different ways to incorporate it into your diet. Consider adding turmeric powder to a smoothie, a savory dish like chicken and rice, or using it to make a golden milk latte.
Chia seeds offer a multitude of health benefits, so it’s no surprise they’ve become increasingly popular in the last few years! These tiny black seeds are known for their high antioxidant content, which helps to fight off free radicals that damage cell molecules and can contribute to the aging process.
In addition to this, chia seeds are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered the building blocks of healthy skin. Omega-3s also support the production of collagen, which is essential to maintaining skin’s elasticity andstrengthening the hair and nails.
Goji berries are an incredible superfood that contain vitamin C, fiber, iron, vitamin A, zinc, and of course, antioxidants. These small red berries can help to strengthen the skin’s barrier and prevent water loss, keeping the skin hydrated. They are also known to boost collagen production.
On top of their amazing beauty benefits, goji berries have been linked to increased energy, quality of sleep, ability to focus, and calmness. They can be bought fresh or dried, and are delicious when added to trail mix, oatmeal, and smoothie bowls.
Beets are a great source of antioxidants and have been shown to have all kinds of skin benefits, including fighting signs of aging, acne, and skin pigmentation. This is most likely because of the high vitamin C content found in beets and beetroot juice.
In addition to nourishing the skin, vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen, which is an important part of skin and hair structure. It also helps the body to absorb iron, which is essential for healthy hair growth.
Artichokes are rich in an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid. Research shows that this antioxidant offers anti-inflammatory benefits and may even reduce the risk of certain cancers and diseases. Artichokes are also packed with other healthy skin nutrients, including folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins C and K.
This vegetable is typically consumed, but it’s also believed that artichokes may benefit the skin and hair when applied topically. Artichoke extract is found in some skincare products and is known to tighten pores and improve skin elasticity. Some people also swear by applying artichoke leaf extract to the hair, claiming that it nourishes the scalp and lengths of the hair.
Last but certainly not least, you might be surprised to find that dark chocolate is high in antioxidants! If you’re looking for a healthy dessert option, a few squares of dark chocolate will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide you with a boost of nutrients.
Dark chocolate contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces, which is even more than blueberries and raspberries. The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to reduce inflammation and even risk for heart disease.
When choosing a dark chocolate, just be sure it has at least 70% cocoa—this will provide the most health benefits while avoiding excess sugar.
By incorporating each of these foods into your diet, you can boost your antioxidant intake and reap their incredible benefits. Remember, you can spend all of the money in the world on different treatments and products—but nothing can replace the nutrients that come from a healthy diet.