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Can Certain Foods Help Rosacea?

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Can Certain Foods Help Rosacea?
A close-up of fresh mackerel for sale at a market. Photo Credit: Jordanlye/iStock/Getty Images

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by chronic redness, acne-like eruptions, a stinging sensation and spider-like blood vessels on your face. Although the cause remains unknown, sun exposure, hot weather, stress, alcohol and certain foods may trigger or worsen your symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests keeping a food log to help determine which foods you're sensitive to. Oral and topical medications and lifestyle changes, such as eating an appropriate diet, may help reduce your symptoms.

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Cold-water Fish

The oil in cold-water fish is rich in healthy, essential fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce eye dryness, according to a report published in the "Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology" in Sept. 2008, which often affects people with ocular rosacea, a type of rosacea that causes dry eyes. Fish particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, cod, sardines and flounder. For heightened benefits, consume baked or broiled cold-water fish instead of fatty or fried meats, which may worsen inflammation.

Flaxseed, Walnuts and Canola Oil

Flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil are top plant-derived sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For reduced inflammation, prepare fish and baked goods with canola oil instead of pro-inflammatory fat sources, such as butter, margarine and shortening. For best results, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends grinding whole flaxseed within two days of use and storing remaining seed in your refrigerator. Consume flaxseed and walnuts on their own or added to other foods, such as yogurt, cereals, baked goods, smoothies and salads.

Natural Herbs

Spicy foods are common rosacea symptom triggers, according to the National Rosacea Society, affecting 45 percent of people in a survey of 1,066 people with the condition. Natural herbs and herbal seasoning blends provide useful flavor-enhancing alternatives. Season soups and vegetable dishes with basil instead of cayenne or black pepper. Mint provides a mild alternative to cinnamon and cloves in baked goods, tea and meat marinades. Other mild varieties include oregano, bay leaves, tarragon and thyme.

Non-acidic Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, which strengthen your body's ability to defend itself from infections and disease. Tomatoes and citrus fruits trigger rosacea symptoms in some people. Tomato products, such as marinara sauce and tomato juice, and citrus juices may pose similar effects. Replacing these items with fruits and vegetables low in acidity and less likely to trigger rosacea outbreaks, such as cherries, melons, zucchini, corn, yellow squash and green beans, may improve your condition. Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet for broadest nutritional benefits.

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