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There are some magnificent beauty products out there that all offer to produce healthy skin, blemish-free skin and generally the kind of skin you only get in Photoshop. Maybe some of them do, I’ve not tried. But there is one thing for certain – food affects everything about our bodies including our skin. So what are the best foods for healthy skin?
Why food makes for healthy skin
It may seem weird to think that what you put in your stomach can have an effect on your skin but it’s true. There are lots of different ideas out there about exactly how and why but the general research seems to indicate that it is the different components in the food that have such an impact. People used to say it was the chocolate that gave you spots as a teenager – but it was more likely to be the sugar in the chocolate.
So when we look at the foods that help us get healthy skin, what we are really looking at is the elements in the food that do the job. Antioxidants are a top one on the list because they combat the damage caused by free radicals, the nasty little buggers that age us and make skin look wrinkled, among other things.
Crash diets can have a bad effect on skin too. You lose weight then you stop dieting and you put it back on so you diet again. And so on. This kills the vitamins from your system and has a negative effect on your skin. All that weight loss and gain also makes skin saggy and a bit worn out.
Top 10 foods to get healthy skin
The best way to illustrate what this all means is to look at some of the foods that boost the skin and how they do this job. Here are ten of the best in no particular order:
How: flavonols (antioxidants)
Chocolate is good for your skin (say thank you – you’re welcome!) but with the caveat that this is dark chocolate, not that nice gooey milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in flavonols, a very powerful type of antioxidant. Aim for chocolate that is at least 70% cacao and a couple of squares a day will help your skin have a good glow.
Protein is the stuff that makes skin firmer and therefore makes the chance of lines appearing much reduced. Yoghurt contains protein and types such as Greek yoghurt have a higher amount that other types.
How: polyphenols (antioxidants)
Pomegranate contains antioxidants called polyphenols that help to regulate the blood flow within the skin. This helps you have a rosy, healthy look and also minimalizes wrinkles. You don’t have to eat the fruit either – you get all the benefits from juice so a glass a day will do the job or you can include it in smoothies.
Omega-3 is the fatty acid that is contained in oily fish as well as foods such as walnuts. It helps to keep skin elastic and this stops wrinkles. Walnuts also contain copper that boosts collagen production, giving skin a lovely smooth feel.
How: Vitamin E
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E that is another substance to keep skin subtle and soft. It protects the top layers of the skin from the damaging rays of the sun too. As well as the face, it helps areas such as the lips and the heels, moisturising them so is a great ingredient in lotions.
If you suffer from spots and blemishes, then zinc is the stuff to deal with the problem and one easy source of it is kidney beans. Zinc has anti-bacterial properties that help kill off the causes of spots as well as healing the skin once the bacteria is cleared.
How: various antioxidants
Green tea gets the vote for many of its health properties and one of them is to help inflammation which effects skin. It contains a number of antioxidants including one called EGCG (well, probably something longer and more complicated but abbreviations are good). This reduces the redness in skin.
Selenium is another antioxidant that pairs up with vitamin C and E to give the immune system a kick into gear. It has also shown to help fight against skin cancer as well as combating damage from the sun and age spots. Brazil nuts are a great source of this as well as containing vitamin E. Alternatives include fish, eggs, broccoli and tomatoes.
While fats have long been said to be the cause of all known problems, the body does need an amount of them and both mono and polyunsaturated fats help to keep the skin moisturised and supple. These fats also bring vitamin E with them.