The Top 8 Foods for Clear, Healthy Skin
By LEA BASCH
There are millions of creams, tonics and ointments out there that tout the ability to give you a clear, radiant complexion. But what you put on your plate can be just as instrumental to healthy skin as what you put on your face.
Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated are all vital for your health as well as for your skin and can diminish the need to use lots of fancy (and expensive!) skin products.
Generally, eating a diet rich in whole foods and limited in processed foods is good both for your body and skin. The primary nutritional qualities in food that benefit skin are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Fruits and vegetables in particular contain powerful antioxidants that help protect skin from the cellular damage and signs of aging caused by free radicals.
Here are a few of my favorite foods for clear and healthy skin:
1. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue and prevention of a dry, flaky complexion.
2. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which counters the effects of sun exposure, strengthens the capillaries that supply the skin, helps blemishes heal and reduces the damage from free radicals. And they contain vitamin E, which also helps protect skin from cell damage.
3. Avocados are also high in vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturizer for your skin. These fats fortify the cell membranes, which in turn helps prevent harmful substances from getting in -- like the stuff of whiteheads and blackheads -- and helps remove waste. Avocados also contain antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Eggs are a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that forms the basis of skin, nail and hair cells. Eggs also contain selenium, which protects the skin from age spots.
5. Almonds are a great source of essential fatty acids and vitamin E (similar to avocados above), which help to protect skin from sun damage.
6. Brazil nuts are a prime source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral believed to play a key role in preventing skin cancer. Selenium is often taken in supplement or cream form, but other dietary sources include whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, seafood, garlic, turkey and eggs.
7. Fish is a top source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like tuna, halibut, tilapia and mackerel are also high in selenium. And seafood like oysters and crabs are high in zinc.
8. Water should not be underestimated as a skin enhancer. Water moisturizes the skin and flushes out your whole system. Even mild dehydration can cause your skin to look dry and tired.
Needless to say, just as there are foods that are particularly good for our skin, there are also foods that are particularly bad and can lead to problems like wrinkles, acne and eczema. Stay away from foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt -- too much of these can be unhealthy not only for your skin, but also for your overall health.
Readers -- How do you treat and prevent dry skin? Did you know that certain foods can help clear your skin? What are you favorite foods for skin health? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Lea Basch, M.S., RD, is the registered dietitian for The Tasteful Pantry. Lea has been in the nutrition industry for more than 30 years and was one of the founders of Longmont United Hospital's nutrition program in Boulder, Colorado. She is a diabetes educator and focuses now on gluten-free diets and food intolerances. Lea's passion is combining the science of nutrition with the heart that it takes to change lifelong habits.