If you want to start each day by adding healthy luster to your skin, there's one breakfast dermatologists recommend you eat: avocado toast topped with lime juice, berries and seeds.
You may associate this staple with trendy cafes, but it's easy to make at home. Simply mash avocado with lime juice, spread it on whole-wheat toast and top with sliced strawberries and chia seeds.
This breakfast will benefit your skin in a number of ways, and as a bonus, the foods that benefit your skin also tend to boost your overall health.
While research on foods for healthy skin is still limited, antioxidant-rich foods seem to protect your skin, per the Mayo Clinic. On the other hand, a diet high in refined sugars, carbs and unhealthy fats is associated with skin aging — one good reason to swap sugary cereal and bacon for this breakfast.
Here's why avocado toast, in particular, will give your skin a healthy boost.
Why Avocado Toast With Berries and Seeds Is the Best Breakfast for Healthy Skin
1. It Gives Your Skin More Luster
Let's start with the star ingredient: delicious avocado. You may already use it topically as part of a DIY mask, but eating this stone fruit will also support your skin.
"Avocados are famous for being chock-full of healthy fats, namely monounsaturated fats," says Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "A high intake of monounsaturated fats is associated with a lower risk of severe photoaging [premature aging of the skin due to ultraviolet radiation exposure], which is good news for our skin."
Monounsaturated fat is found in plant foods like avocados, nuts and vegetable oils, and eating moderate amounts of it in place of saturated and trans fat can benefit your overall health, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Researchers surveyed 1,264 women and 1,655 men ages 45 to 60 and estimated their dietary monounsaturated fatty acid intakes in a September 2012 study in PLOS One. A lower risk of severe photoaging was associated with a higher intake of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, but not animal sources, in both men and women.
One avocado contains 19.7 grams of monounsaturated fats, per the USDA. In addition to benefiting your skin, monounsaturated fats can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol level and develop and maintain your cells, per the NLM.
That said, avocado isn't the only powerhouse ingredient in this breakfast that will make your skin look dewy and tout.
"Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants and have omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to the skin's luster and elasticity," says Michelle Henry, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "They also contain small amounts of our skin's favorite trace minerals — selenium and zinc — which may be important in maintaining our skin's elasticity."
2. It Supports Collagen Production
Lime juice is a secret ingredient in your avocado toast that will help maintain your body's collagen levels, a structural protein that gives skin elasticity.
"It's high in vitamin C, a great antioxidant our skin relies upon to fight free radicals that cause damage and aging," Dr. Geddes-Bruce says. "In addition to that, vitamin C is needed for wound healing and is necessary to maintain the structure of collagen."
As you age, the vitamin C content in your skin and your body's production of collagen naturally decrease, per the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute.
That decline in collagen is what contributes to wrinkles and crepey skin, and it can also cause other health issues like weakening muscles, joint pain, osteoarthritis or even gastrointestinal problems due to the thinning of your digestive tract lining, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Apart from aging, a poor diet is the most common cause of too little collagen in the body.
"To increase intake of vitamin C, I like to eat avocado toast in the morning with some lime juice sprinkled on the top," says Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.
Vitamin C is tied to improving skin appearance, wrinkling, elasticity and roughness, per a March 2015 review in the journal Nutrition Research. That said, the authors note that more research is needed to pinpoint the exact effect of dietary intake on appearance.
"Strawberries also have [the polyphenol] ellagic acid, which prevents collagen destruction," Dr. Henry says.
3. It Could Help You Avoid Acne
Swap white bread for a whole-grain slice, and you might be able to avoid a few unwanted pimples.
"Whole-grain alternatives have lower glycemic indexes than their refined counterparts, which means they do not cause as great of a spike in the blood hormone insulin," Dr. Geddes-Bruce says. "Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) increase inflammation and may increase acne. Skipping those highly processed and refined carbohydrates might help you skip a pimple or two."
That also goes for sugary pastries you eye up for breakfast: If it spikes your blood sugar, it may just spike your acne. "Some studies have shown a correlation of the high glycemic index in Western diets with acne," Dr. Chacon says.
Eating high-glycemic foods often can raise hormones that elevate the activity of your skin's oil glands, ultimately causing acne, per UW Health.
4. It May Protect Your Skin From Damage
"In addition to vitamin C, berries like strawberries contain anthocyanins," Dr. Geddes-Bruce says. "Anthocyanins are what give strawberries their rich red pigment, and they also function as powerful antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties."
Research has shown that anthocyanins are linked to protecting the skin from UV radiation damage, photoaging and skin cancer — and they possess anti-carcinogenic potential on different types of cancer cell lines, per a September 2020 study in the journal Biomedicines, however, more research needs to be done to confirm these findings.
Meanwhile, the omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds may help create a strong barrier to your skin. "Omega-3 fats are photoprotective, and they strengthen the lipid barrier of the outermost layer of our skin, the epidermis," Dr. Geddes-Bruce says.
3 More Tips for a Healthy-Skin Breakfast
- Opt for a savory toast. Packed with beneficial fats, salmon is another topping that boosts the health of your skin — especially when eaten in place of red meat, Dr. Chacon says. Swap bacon for salmon on your avocado toast in the morning, and you may just see the benefits in your skin.
- Try apricot as a topping. It's unconventional but flavorful. Apricot and other yellow and orange fruits are considered to be some of the best foods for healthy skin, per the Mayo Clinic.
- Sip green tea with your meal. "Drinking green tea or consuming green tea extract in foods may also help overall skin health as a component of your breakfast," Dr. Chacon says.
- Mayo Clinic: "What are the best foods for healthy skin?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Facts about monounsaturated fats"
- PLOS One: "Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Intake and Risk of Skin Photoaging"
- MyFoodData: "Avocados"
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: "Vitamin C and Skin Health"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen"
- Nutrition Research: "Can dietary intake influence perception of and measured appearance? A Systematic Review"
- MyFoodData: "Lime Juice"
- MyFoodData: "Strawberries"
- UW Health: "Acne and Your Diet: How the Glycemic Index Affects Your Skin"
- Biomedicines: "Anthocyanins, Vibrant Color Pigments, and Their Role in Skin Cancer Prevention"