Top Anti-Aging Foods for Beautiful Skin
Article written by Rhianna DeVries - bio on our Editorial Team.
Aging is an all-encompassing process. Your largest organ, your skin, is no exception to this rule—in fact, the look of your skin is probably one of the most telling signs of aging. And though aging is inevitable, and we all want to age gracefully, there’s no shame in giving your skin a little TLC to ensure its health and youth for as long as possible. That said, anti-aging strategies start from the inside, out: and what you eat has a huge impact on how your skin holds up against the test of time. Here are some of the best foods you can eat to promote anti-aging and beautiful, youthful skin.
Fish is an awesome source of protein and nutrients that can power you through the day, and if you enjoy oil-rich fish, then you’re in for a treat. Not only can oily fish contribute to supporting the health of your heart and nervous system, but it’s also filled with good fats that keep your skin looking young. Oily fish are notorious for being rich in protein and omega-3 fats, and fish like arctic char and salmon are common go-tos for those looking to build lean muscle mass. But, before you dig in, be sure to keep in mind the mercury content of the fish you’re consuming and try to opt for fish that are lower in mercury levels. Be wary of and avoid heavy-metal fish, such as tuna, swordfish, and thresher sharks. Salmon is a fish you can freely chow down on; this freshwater, oily fish, is especially impressive, as it also contains a carotenoid called astaxanthin, which can improve skin hydration and elasticity.
Fats, in general, are ideal for nourishing your skin and preventing dryness, and avocados are packed with healthy fat. Our bodies cannot naturally produce all the essential nutrients that avocados have to offer—including the monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats that these awesome fruits are packed with (monounsaturated fat, specifically, naturally lowers cholesterol). On top of these nutrients, avocados are also filled with antioxidants and vitamins that reverse aging. Avocados have plenty of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and is especially high in vitamin A, which can help shed dead skin cells. Good fats are necessary for maintaining brain health, mental focus, and hormone balance, and avocados are especially great for enhancing the absorption of more nutrients, like vitamin A.
Much like the other awesome foods on this list, bell peppers are filled with antioxidants. They also cart along plenty of carotenoids, which are the source of plant pigments (i.e., the red, yellow, and orange colors found on many of our favorite fruits and veggies), have tons of anti-inflammatory properties, and can protect against pollution, skin damage, and environmental toxins. Bell peppers can do all of this and more, considering they are also packed with vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen production. Red bell peppers, especially, contain more vitamin C than their yellow, orange, and green counterparts, and, by extension, are much more effective in keeping your skin looking young and healthy. Collagen production depends on the presence of vitamin C, and bell peppers, regardless of their color, contain more vitamin C than an orange. Bell peppers provide nearly 300% of your daily intake of vitamin C and have good levels of dietary fiber, and vitamins A, B6, and E.
If you did an online search for “superfoods” or “best veggies for you” or anything praising the foods you could consume to improve your health, energy, and body, you would be sure to find broccoli on every list. All cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts) contain tons of antioxidants and fiber, are dense in nutrients, and contain sulforaphane, a phytochemical that can prevent cell damage by stimulating the enzymes in the body responsible for detox. Sulforaphane can also naturally reduce oxygen-free radicals, which can aid in preventing cancer. Broccoli can do all of this, and more: this super veggie is also an anti-inflammatory, and is filled with vitamins C and K, tons of fiber, folate, calcium, and lutein. While the vitamin C in the broccoli is working its magic to produce more collagen (the primary protein that gives skin its elasticity and strength), the vitamin K in this awesome veggie can strengthen your bones and your heart.
Broccoli also made our list of the best foods to support immune function.
Coconut oil has so many applications and benefits. From being used as a natural sunscreen and makeup remover to acting as the perfect oil to make a veggie scramble in the morning, coconut oil has a lot to offer you and your body. Coconut oil is considered a “medium-chain” fatty acid, which means that the fatty acids come in small enough sizes that it makes it easier for them to permeate cellular membranes. In the end, this means that your body does not require additional enzymes to process all of coconut oil’s nutrients, and the good fats in coconut oil can go straight to your liver, where it is immediately converted into energy (as opposed to being stored as fat). Coconut oil is a rich source of good fat, and these fats are linked to anti-aging (as well as effective weight loss, if that’s something you’re interested in). As an added benefit, if you choose to use coconut oil on your skin, this oil contains lauric acid, which gives it natural antimicrobial properties that can assist in fighting infectious bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
Cacao on its own is considered quite the superfood. It’s rich in magnesium, which is hailed as a natural calming agent, and it’s also chock-full of minerals and vitamins, from vitamin B to zinc. Cacao also contains polyphenols, which hold tons of antioxidant properties that can help you look and feel younger. In fact, dark chocolate contains antioxidants that make it even more powerful than other superfoods, such as blueberries, cranberries, and even acai berries. On top of all these benefits, flavonols in dark chocolate can protect the skin from sun damage. In studies comparing cocoa with high and low flavanol content and its effects on skin function, people within the high-flavanol groups experienced improved blood flow to the skin, as well as increased skin thickness, hydration, and smoothness. Of course, this means that the higher the cacao content, the higher the levels of flavanols, which is why many nutritionists recommend dark chocolate over its milk chocolate sister—to be exact, it is recommended to look out for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa solids.
Anti-aging is all about working from the inside out, and eating foods packed with good fats, and collagen-boosting vitamins and minerals is a great place to start. Whether it’s making salmon a few times a week, trying out coconut oil when frying up a broccoli/bell pepper stir fry, or indulging in a bit of dark chocolate for dessert, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate these nutrient-rich foods into your diet in order to promote beautiful, youthful skin.