We’re all familiar with the age-old saying, “You are what you eat.” While this most commonly refers to the way we feel and our health overall, research has shown that there’s actually a connection between good nutrition and our skin.
The foods we eat on a daily basis have a direct impact on our skin—in fact, your diet could be the difference between a tired, dull complexion and one that’s youthful and glowing.
So what should we be eating to achieve our best skin? Studies have shown that there are particular foods—superfoods if you will—that fuel healthy skin. These foods are packed with powerful nutrients that will nourish your body and skin from the inside out.
While a good skincare routine is essential, it can’t replace the benefits of a healthy diet. Here are 11 skin-loving superfoods to stock up on now:
Chia seeds took the health industry by storm a few years ago—and for a good reason! A sprinkle of these tiny seeds provides a boost of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are building blocks for healthy skin cell function.
Omega-3s also support collagen production. Collagen is essential to keeping skin strong and fighting signs of aging. Studies show that chia seeds reduce dryness and inflammation, and even increase circulation. Whether it’s in your smoothie, oatmeal, or favorite chia pudding recipe, a serving of chia seeds can do wonders for the skin.
If you’re a guac lover (who isn’t?), you’ll be happy to learn that avocados are great for the skin. High in poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids, avocados help to keep skin firm and hydrated while also calming redness and irritation.
Avocado has also been shown to help protect the skin from sun damage—which is one of the main culprits when it comes to aging skin. It also fights free radicals and supports your skin’s moisture retention and elasticity. If you’re someone with dry skin, this superfood will be especially beneficial for you.
Sweet potatoes are an amazing source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. One, half-cup serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta carotene to provide more than six times the recommended daily value of vitamin A!
Beta carotene acts as a natural sunblock, as it helps to protect your skin cells from sun exposure when consumed. This can help to prevent sunburn and wrinkled, dry skin. As an added bonus, consuming high amounts of beta carotene has been shown to add a warm, orange color to the skin, which gives a glowy, healthy appearance.
Oily fish, especially salmon, is full of omega-3s. Similar to chia seeds and avocado, salmon can help repair damaged skin, hydrate the skin, and keep out toxins.
Salmon also contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which has been shown to prevent skin damage and help skin look younger. In one study, participants with sun-damaged skin were given astaxanthin and collagen for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, they noticed significant improvements in the hydration and elasticity in their skin.
The next time you’re browsing the spice rack, reach for paprika. This bright red spice is used all around the world and is known for its vibrant flavor. However, it’s also loaded with nutrients like fiber, iron, and vitamins A, E, and B6—all of which support healthy skin.
Paprika is amazing when sprinkled on sweet potatoes, chicken breast, eggs, rice...the list goes on and on. If you’re looking to add a spicy kick and give your skin an extra boost, look no further than this spice.
Spinach and other leafy greens like kale and collard greens are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, which fortify the skin’s natural barrier and promote recovery from sun damage and even scarring.
Incorporating spinach into your diet or applying it topically has been shown to reduce inflammation and even fight breakouts. It also contains powerful antioxidants that can protect the skin from harmful environmental factors. Turns out mom and dad were right when they used to tell you to eat your greens!
Blueberries may be small, but they’re mighty when it comes to skincare benefits. These sweet berries are high in antioxidants. These molecules help fight cell-damaging free radicals that lead to premature aging.
This fruit has also been linked to better heart health and improved circulation, which is important for healthy skin. According to a 2019 study, eating one cup of blueberries each day can help improve your body’s ability to send nutrients and oxygen to your skin and cells. This allows for quicker and more efficient cell turnover, and ultimately, healthier skin.
The benefits of blueberries don’t stop there, however—blueberries have also been shown to naturally boost collagen and may even reduce inflammation due to acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Putting lemon wedges in a glass of water not only adds a refreshing taste, but also provides benefits for the skin. Known for its detoxifying effects, lemons are a great source of vitamin C—which is a critical nutrient for skin health.
Vitamin C plays a role in collagen synthesis and also offers antioxidant properties. Several studies show that incorporating it into your diet and applying it topically (such as using a vitamin C serum) can help to prevent and treat UV damage. It’s also been correlated with a lower risk of dryness and wrinkling in the skin. This makes it a key player in the anti-aging game.
A handful of almonds is a quick and easy snack that can nourish your body and skin. These nuts are full of nutrients, including fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamin E.
While the nutrients found in almonds are great for your health overall, vitamin E is the rock star when it comes to your skin. This powerful antioxidant combats the effects of harmful free radicals and also offers anti-inflammatory properties. It has even been shown to help reduce UV damage to the skin and symptoms of dermatitis.
If you’re looking for a little bit of variety, throw some walnuts in the mix, too. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they also contain zinc, which your skin relies on to function as a barrier. Zinc also can help to combat bacteria and inflammation.
When inflammation occurs in the body, this can negatively impact the skin by making it look puffy and tired. Over time, this can lead to premature aging. However, the good news is that there are anti-inflammatory foods that can help to combat this, one of them being turmeric.
Turmeric is a bright, yellow-orange spice that is commonly compared to ginger. Thanks to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s known for bringing out the skin’s natural glow. Studies have found that turmeric supports skin tissue and collagen, and may even help with acne scarring.
Aside from supplements, there are many different ways to consume turmeric. Try it blended into a smoothie, added to rice, or in a delicious turmeric latte. This can be a fun way to experiment with some new recipes, and your skin will thank you for it.
You didn’t think you would see chocolate on this list, did you? We all need a little dessert every now and then, and dark chocolate is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while also benefiting the skin.
In one study, participants found that after 6-12 weeks of consuming cocoa powder high in antioxidants daily, they experienced more hydrated skin. The benefits they reported included better blood flow. And skin proved less rough, scaly, and sensitive to sunburn.
So, there you have it—proof that a little bit of chocolate here and there can actually be good for you! Just be sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to reap the full benefits and avoid excess sugar.
At the end of the day, beauty really does come from the inside—both literally and figuratively! Enjoy trying out these 11 superfoods and finding creative ways to incorporate them into your diet.