When it comes to beautiful skin, we often lean heavily on what we can put on—or even in our skin! Turns out, alongside your skincare routine, what you put in your body as part of your daily diet can keep you looking youthful and help fight inflammation.
Our bodies rely on various nutrients to support the natural ageing process. Some nutrients may help slow signs of ageing and promote healthy skin. It’s important to note that eating specific foods isn’t going to turn back the clock, and that nutrition is only one aspect of ageing well.
Still, adding nutrient-dense foods to your diet can help you look and feel your best as you get older. If you want beautiful skin, what you eat matters so we have compiled a list of 10 healthy beauty foods to help keep your skin glowing, fight inflammation because Halcyon is about healthy ageing, not anti-ageing.
1. Extra virgin olive oil (in particular cold pressed as its higher in antioxidants) is one of the healthiest oils on earth. It’s rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage caused by an imbalance of free radicals in the body. A diet rich in olive oil has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Some studies have shown that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats may help reduce skin ageing thanks to the strong anti-inflammatory effects of these healthy fats. Try adding it to a salad or dip.
2. Green tea is also high in antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules created as a byproduct of normal cell functioning. They can also form in response to stressors from the external environment, such as ultraviolet light or tobacco smoke. Free radicals can damage your cells if they’re present at high levels so that’s where the importance of getting antioxidants into your diet comes in. These molecules stabilise free radicals so they’re unable to cause damage like heart disease and premature ageing.
The polyphenols found in green tea also help reduce external skin ageing — from environmental stressors such as the sun and pollution — by scavenging free radicals before they damage the skin. In fact, many skin care products contain green tea extract for its antioxidant and healthy aging properties.
3. Watercress the health benefits of this plant do not disappoint! This nutrient-dense hydrating leafy green is a great source of: calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamins A, C, K, B-1, and B-2. Watercress acts as an internal skin antiseptic and increases the circulation and delivery of minerals to all cells of the body, resulting in enhanced oxygenation of the skin. Packed with vitamins A and C, the antioxidants in watercress may neutralise harmful free radicals, helping to keep fine lines and wrinkles away. Great in salads, smoothies, soups or even stir frys.
4. Dark chocolate or cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants in the body.
In particular, it contains flavanols, which are linked to numerous health benefits and antioxidants which help protect the skin from sun damage and assist in slowing down skin ageing.
In one high quality 24-week study, participants that consumed a flavanol-rich cocoa beverage experienced significant improvements in skin elasticity and facial wrinkles compared with those in the control group. Remember, the higher the cocoa content, the higher the flavanol content. Therefore, if you want to add dark chocolate to your diet, choose a variety with at least 70% cocoa solids as they contain little added sugar, as a high sugar diet can destroy collagen cells.
5. Vegetables are extremely nutrient-dense and low in calories. They contain antioxidants like Vitamin C which play a crucial role in collagen production. Vegetables are also high in carotenoids, like beta carotene and lycopene. Some research suggests that a diet high in carotenoids may protect the skin against the sun’s UV rays, which are the main cause of premature skin ageing. Some of the best sources of beta carotene are carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Vegetables with the highest vitamin C content include leafy greens like spinach & kale, peppers, blueberries, raspberries and broccoli. It’s important to eat vegetables of different colours, as each colour represents different antioxidants that can benefit your skin and overall health. Aim to have at least two vegetables at each meal and always protect your skin using 30-50+ sunscreen.
6. Flax seeds offer impressive health benefits from antioxidants to omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fats helps support a healthy skin membrane by helping your skin stay hydrated and plump. In high quality studies from 2009 and 2011, women who consumed flax seeds or flax oil for 12 weeks showed increased hydration and smoother skin.
7. Pomegranates, like most fruits, are full of healthy nutrients. They’re high in fibre, potassium, and vitamin K, which help support a healthy heart. They’re likewise rich in antioxidants, such as flavonols, tannins, phenolic acids, and lignans. Studies suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranates may also help support healthy skin ageing by decreasing UV skin damage and brown spots caused by sun exposure. These antioxidants also help protect the skin’s existing collagen and promote the skin to make new collagen.
8. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy fats, fibre, and several vitamins and minerals that are essential for health. Their high content of monounsaturated fat can help promote healthy skin by supporting a healthy skin membrane, while their high antioxidant content may fight free radicals that damage and age the skin. For example, one study showed that a diet rich in plant-based fats was linked to better skin health in older adults.
9. Tomatoes provide many impressive health benefits, several of which can be attributed to their high lycopene content. This type of carotenoid is what gives tomatoes their red colour. It also acts as an antioxidant to help reduce the risk of chronic disease. Pairing tomatoes with healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocado, significantly boosts the body’s absorption of lycopene.
10. Collagen peptides are the body’s most abundant protein. In particular, it’s found in high amounts in the skin and joints. As we age, our body begins to break down collagen and produce it less effectively. This can lead to gradual signs of skin ageing, such as wrinkles and sagging skin. While this process is inevitable and a natural part of growing older, consuming foods that support collagen synthesis can help keep your skin healthy for longer. These include protein-rich foods and vitamin C.
Ultimately, consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and high in protein is the key to collagen production. You can also take a collagen supplement if you’d like to boost your intake further as research is showing positive results.
The foods you eat can play a role in the health of your skin, including how your skin changes as you get older. Along with eating a nutritious diet full of whole, plant-based foods, consider protecting your skin with other habits, such as wearing sunscreen, avoiding smoking, staying physically active, and using appropriate skin care products to treat your skin concerns.
Like everything else in life, it is all about balance.