The connection between nutrition and skin condition, or rather the effect of nutrition on skin aging, has been an exciting research field not only for scientists but also a common field of interest for humans throughout the years, from ancient times to nowadays. Skin aging consists of two clinically and biologically independent processes. The first is intrinsic skin aging, which represents chronological aging and affects the skin in the same pattern with which it affects all internal organs. The second is extrinsic skin aging, which is the result of external factors and environmental influences — mainly chronic sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, but also smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition.1 This is why superfoods for skin is a popular topic of interest.
Prevention is the most effective way to work against extrinsic skin aging effects. The best prevention strategy against the harmful action of free radicals is a healthy lifestyle with low-stress conditions and a balanced nutritional diet, including antioxidative rich food.
Frequently researched antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocophenols, and flavonoids, as well as vitamins (A, C, D, and E), essential omega-3-fatty acids, some proteins, and lactobacilli have been referred to as agents capable of promoting skin health and beauty.
Here are some of the best superfoods for skin that have been scientifically proven to be good for healthy and glowing skin. You might want to think about incorporating them into your diet!
Superfoods For Skin
One of the best superfoods for skin is fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel. It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health.2 Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. Some studies show that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting the skin, such as psoriasis and lupus. Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for the skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping protect against damage from free radicals and inflammation. Lastly, fish provides zinc — a mineral vital for regulating inflammation, overall skin health, and the production of new skin cells.
Avocados are high in healthy fats. These fats benefit many functions in the body, including the skin. Getting enough of these fats is essential to help keep the skin elastic and moisturized. Preliminary evidence also shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect the skin from sun damage.3 Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which, like vitamin C, is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and the environment, which can lead to signs of aging. A 100-gram serving, or about 1/2 an avocado, provides 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 11% of the DV for vitamin C.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent superfood for healthy skin. They’re a good source of essential fatty acids. In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.4 A diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis. On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation. While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare. Because walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids, they may help fight the potential inflammatory response to excessive omega-6. In addition, walnuts contain other nutrients that the skin needs to function properly and stay healthy, such as zinc and selenium. One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 8% of the DV for zinc.
In general, nuts and seeds are good superfoods for skin - they are sources of skin-boosting nutrients.. Sunflower seeds are an excellent example. One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in plants. It functions as provitamin A, which means it can be converted into vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is found in oranges and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source — one 1/2-cup (100-gram) serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta-carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A. Carotenoids like beta-carotene help keep the skin healthy by acting as an endogenous photoprotector. When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into the skin and helps protect its cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene and another of the best superfoods for skin. One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A. They are also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. Broccoli florets also pack a special compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive potential benefits. Sulforaphane is likewise a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in the body. Interestingly, there are several studies that show potential anti-cancer effects of sulforaphane, especially for skin cancer.5,6
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect the skin against damage from the sun.7 Because tomatoes are rich in carotenoids, they are an excellent food for maintaining healthy skin. Pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil, could be an excellent idea since fat increases the absorption of carotenoids.
In postmenopausal women, skin aging is accelerated due to decreased estrogen levels. Soybeans contain large quantities of isoflavones, a category of plant compounds called phytoestrogens because they can mimic estrogens. A study involving 29 women showed that the use of a concentrated, isoflavone-rich soy extract for 6 consecutive months caused significant increases in epithelial thickness, the number of elastic and collagen fibers, and blood vessels.8
The powerful compounds found in green tea can improve the health of the skin in several ways. Green tea mainly consists of polyphenols (~90%), amino acids (~7%), theanine, proanthocyanidins, and caffeine (~3%). Among the different polyphenols, catechins and flavonols are the major constituents. Catechin (C), epicatechin (EC), gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) are the major catechins present in green tea. Accumulating evidence suggests that green tea polyphenols such as catechins confer protective effects on the skin against ultraviolet (UV) radiation-induced acceleration of skin aging, involving antimelanogenic, antiwrinkle, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects as well as prevention of immunosuppression.9 Additionally, green tea is full of vitamin B2 and vitamin E, both essential for skin health maintenance. Vitamin B2 plays an essential role in maintaining collagen levels for youthful skin structure and firmness. Vitamin E supports new skin cell growth and also acts as an intense hydrator for soft and nourished skin.10
Red grapes are famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes (interestingly, it is only present in the skin and not in the flesh). Resveratrol is a polyphenol with a natural antioxidant effect.11
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and creates an effective external barrier against the environment. It is the first line of defense to protect internal organs and maintains homeostasis through several mechanisms. Skin aging is a complex process mediated by the intrinsic process of senescence and extrinsic damage induced by external factors like chronic exposure to UV radiation.
A promising strategy for enhancing skin protection from aging and oxidative stress is to support the endogenous antioxidant system, with superfoods for skin containing antioxidants such as the ones listed here. A balanced diet with a lot of fruit and vegetable consumption, together with healthy protein sources such as fatty fish, may represent the most effective method in order to maintain youthful appearing skin.