Your skin is often the first thing people notice about you, and if you want it to be as radiant as your personality, it's important that you eat a nutrient-rich diet. According to dermatologists, adding a smoothie to your daily diet can help you in your efforts.
Every diet should be balanced with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. It should also be abundant in bright and colorful plant-based foods (i.e. fruits, veggies and herbs), which are the key to glowing, radiant skin. Smoothies are a great way to include more plant foods in your diet in the form of a yummy, easy-to-eat (or in this case, drink) snack.
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For optimal health, aim for 2 1/2 cups of veggies per day and 2 cups of fruit per day if you're eating a 2,000-calorie diet, per the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
How Smoothies Can Benefit Your Skin
Typically, smoothie recipes include a variety of plant foods. Nutrients in plant foods promote healthy skin by lowering inflammation, defending against skin-damaging compounds and providing structural support, according to a March 2022 review in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Blending up a smoothie at snacktime can give you two to three servings of skin-promoting vegetables and fruits.
In addition to providing nutrients your skin needs, smoothies can help you stay hydrated, which may influence your skin's elasticity and appearance. Drinking a smoothie adds much-needed fluids to your diet, not only from the liquid ingredients, but also from the fruits and vegetables.
Smoothie Ingredients for Healthy Skin
We spoke to Nava MD lead dermatologist, Lilliana Ramirez Garcia, MD, board-certified dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD, as well as certified dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Ideal Image, Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, who recommended the following smoothie ingredients for healthy, glowing skin.
Spinach is a source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and polyphenols, which are all linked to healthy skin. "I love spinach because it's full of vitamin A, a nutrient that moderates oil production in your skin. This helps reduce acne breakouts while keeping your skin healthy and hydrated," Dr. Ramirez Garcia says.
Use fresh spinach for a luscious green smoothie, and don't fret about your smoothie tasting like leaves. Adding a handful to the blender before adding other ingredients will help combine the flavors so you won't even taste it.
Bananas are a classic smoothie ingredient, but they are good for more than just sweetness and texture.
"Bananas are high in potassium, which supports healthy blood flow to your skin, giving it a brighter, more luminous quality," Dr. Ramirez Garcia says. "They are also rich in manganese, which helps us produce collagen, the structural protein that can help prevent or diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging."
If you are making a snack-size smoothie, use 1/2 of a medium banana to keep the calories and sugar low.
Dr. Ramirez Garcia recommends pineapple because it is abundant in antioxidants. "These supernutrients help your body stabilize free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can cause skin cell damage and accelerate the signs of aging," she says.
A major source of skin aging is ultraviolet (UV) light, which can cause changes in the skin's texture and appearance. Adding more antioxidants to your diet can help protect your skin against damage from UV light, environmental pollution and even stress, according to a January 2022 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
For a snack-sized smoothie, use 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple.
Lemon and Ginger
Lemon and ginger are both smoothie ingredients recommended by Dr. Ramirez Garcia for clearer skin. "These nutrient-dense ingredients are both known to reduce inflammation, which is especially important if you are prone to breakouts and irritation, " she says.
Simply squeeze half a lemon into your blender and add a pinky nail size of ginger, which is enough to get the benefits without an unpleasant or overwhelming flavor.
This refreshing addition adds the liquid you need to pull your smoothie together. Dr. Ramirez Garcia loves coconut water because it has nutrients that support skin's hydration and elasticity.
Coconut water boasts a few skin-promoting nutrients, including vitamin B2, vitamin B3 and vitamin C. It's also high in antioxidants and contains hydrating electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium. Staying hydrated is especially important if you ever experience dry, itchy skin, Dr. Ramirez Garcia says.
Researchers say that the appearance of your skin on your lips, legs and arms is a direct reflection of how hydrated you are, according to a March 2020 review in Nutrients.
Add a 1/2 cup of coconut water to your blender for a snack-size smoothie. Steer clear of coconut water with added sugars and choose an unsweetened variety.
Nuts or Nut Butters
Don't shy away from nuts or nut butters in your smoothies just because they are high in fat. These unsaturated fats are the kind you want more of when it comes to skin health.
Dr. Robinson is a huge fan of walnuts, and for good reason. "When it comes to the skin, they are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, which fight skin cell damage," she says.
Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have a number of health benefits, especially for the skin. Eating more omega-3s may help decrease inflammation of the skin and reduce the signs of aging, according to Oregon State University.
"These fats help the skin to stay moisturized by supporting a strong, healthy moisture barrier which regulates skin hydration and protects deeper structures of the skin from outside irritants," Dr. Robinson says.
Nuts boast nutrients like copper, selenium, vitamin E and protein. All of these are involved in either maintaining the structure of skin or preventing signs of aging, according to the review in Nutrients.
Almond butter and cashew butter are both neutral in flavor, so they make an easy and creamy addition to your smoothie. Stick with the serving size of 2 tablespoons for a snack-size smoothie.
If you're into green smoothies, do yourself a favor and add a quarter of an avocado in there as well. You may not realize it, but avocados have a high water content, making them a hydrating ingredient for your skin.
Dr. Anna Chacon recommends avocado smoothies for radiant skin: "They contain healthy omega-3 fats which help the skin stay moisturized and firm," she says.
They also have vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that may help prevent skin aging. "Avocados are also rich in carotenoids and polyphenols, too, which help protect the skin from damage after exposure to environmental stressors, such as UV rays, pollution and lack of sleep," Dr. Chacon says.
If you don't mind a little texture in your smoothie, then flaxseeds are something you should consider adding. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower inflammation and may ward off signs of aging. They also have antioxidants, which help prevent damage to the skin.
When crafting your skin-health smoothie, simply add a tablespoon of flaxseeds to the blender.
So there you have it: According to the experts, blending up a smoothie at snack time is a great way to support your skin health. Thanks to plant ingredients that are high in skin-supporting nutrients like vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, a luminous glow can indeed be yours.
To gain the most benefit, choose whole, unprocessed fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review"
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Plant-Derived Antioxidants: Significance in Skin Health and the Ageing Process"
- Nutrients: "Diet and Skin Aging—From the Perspective of Food Nutrition"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health"
- USDA: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans