The #1 Food To Eat For Skin Health |

The #1 Food To Eat For Skin Health

What we eat has a direct impact on our overall health and well-being, so it’s no surprise that nutrition greatly influences the health of our largest organ: the skin. “The saying, ‘you are what you eat,’ is true when it comes to the condition of your skin,” says Ariel Ostad, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. “Your dietary choices can have both positive and negative effects on your skin’s appearance and overall health.”

If you want to eat for better skin health, it’s important to consider foods rich in certain nutrients. Foods that contain antioxidants, protein, vitamin E, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids are all key ingredients that help promote healthy-looking skin, says Ostad. Here’s a look at how nutrition impacts the skin, what experts say is the most important food to incorporate, and other foods to consider to get glowing skin from the inside out.

The Role of Nutrition in Skin Health

According to Ostad, several key nutrients play a vital role in promoting skin health, and each impacts the skin in different ways:

  • Vitamin A supports skin cell production and repair, which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Vitamin C aids collagen production, which is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing sagging.
  • Vitamin E protects the skin from free radical damage and can help reduce the appearance of scars.
  • Vitamin D supports skin cell growth and repair. It plays a role in wound healing.
  • Protein is essential for collagen production, which prevents sagging.
  • Antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage, which can cause premature aging and skin issues.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, which may help with skin conditions related to inflammation, like acne and eczema.

The #1 Food for Skin Health

Many nutrient-dense foods can work wonders for the skin when incorporated into our regular diet. However, if the experts had to pick just one, eating fatty fish rich in omega-3s like salmon was the one food consistently mentioned. “Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to preserve collagen, fight inflammation, and keep skin firm,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table. “Not only are these omega-3’s good for your skin, but they’re also heart-healthy.”

Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, notes that Omega-3 fatty acids can also help increase hydration in the skin, which helps to moisturize the skin. One study confirmed that omega-3s help promote more supple skin. In addition to being a good source of omega-3s, Ostad points out that salmon is rich in other nutrients that impact the skin. “Salmon is an excellent source of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D, and B vitamins,” he says. Salmon is also a source of vitamin E, which helps protect the skin against free radical damage.

Other Excellent Foods for Skin Health

Salmon isn’t the only food that can have a noticeable difference on skin. Here are a few other foods to consider for a skin-healthy diet.

Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats along with vitamins A and C, which are important for maintaining strong tissues and preventing skin dryness, says Taub-Dix. Add avocado to salads, top toast with an avocado spread, or treat yourself to a salmon avocado roll for double the skin benefits.

Almonds and Almond Milk: Recent studies have even shown that almonds can reduce the formation of wrinkles, says Taub-Dix. Try topping your morning cereal with almonds and almond milk, or throw them into your favorite smoothie.

Spinach and Egg Yolks: These foods are rich in lutein, a carotenoid that protects your skin from UV damage, explains Taub-Dix. Cook up a spinach omelet to start your morning off right.

Canned Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps skin stay resilient and smooth. Lycopene is more easily absorbed in cooked tomatoes than fresh tomatoes, Taub-Dix says. Use them in vegetable-rich soups or stews, or make Shakshuka to get the added benefits from egg yolks. 

Carrots: Carrots contain the carotenoids beta carotene and lycopene—both of which can help protect against sun damage, says Taub-Dix. Try them roasted or snack on them raw.

Oranges and Citrus Fruits: “Oranges and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which supports collagen production, improves skin texture, and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Ostad. Plus, they’re an easy snack to take with you and peel when you’re ready to enjoy.

Green tea: “Green tea has polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can reduce the risk of skin damage from UV radiation and promote even skin tone,” explains Ostad. Having a cup after a meal is also said to help with digestion.

Yogurt: “Probiotic foods promote a healthy gut microbiome, which can help reduce inflammation and support clearer, healthier skin,” says Ostad. Top with almonds for an afternoon snack that provides an extra boost for your skin. 

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Top Foods to Avoid for Healthy Skin

What you avoid for skin health is just as important as what you eat. Here, Garshick explains the top foods to steer clear of for healthier skin.

  • Processed and high glycemic index foods: Regularly consuming these foods can worsen skin aging, promote skin dullness, and contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Heavy alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol in excess triggers oxidative damage and stress on the skin, which increases signs and symptoms of aging. It’s also dehydrating, which can contribute to dry skin and worsen fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Trans fats: Commonly found in baked goods, fried foods, and fast foods, trans fats can increase inflammation, and inflammation may contribute to signs of skin aging.

Lifestyle Factors for Healthy Skin

In addition to eating a proper diet, drinking an adequate amount of water can work wonders for the skin. “Whether tap, bottled or sparkling, in tea or coffee or nestled within watery fruits, veggies, and soups, water rules when it comes to hydrating the skin,” says Taub-Dix. Drinking water consistently throughout the day is one of the fastest, easiest ways to promote healthier skin.

Regular exercise also helps promote skin health. A recent study found that people with higher activity levels are less prone to dry skin and indicated that exercises can help improve the skin’s ability to hold moisture. In addition to staying hydrated, eating a proper diet, and regular exercise, it’s also important to stick to a skincare routine that includes an effective cleanser, moisturizer, and adequate SPF suited to your skin type.

Proper nutrition can be a powerful line of defense for keeping skin looking and feeling healthy from the inside out. “It is important to eat a well-balanced diet, trying to ensure the proper amount of fruits, vegetables, and protein each day,” says Garshick. Keep these key ingredients in mind next time you’re preparing a meal or snack.

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