Whether you're craving a sunny summer glow or trying to add some color in the cooler months, your diet can help you along. Foods rich in carotenoids -- those red, orange and yellow pigments that give some fruits and veggies their color -- bring color to your face, and certain foods can prevent a nutrient deficiency that gives you a pale, washed-out complexion.
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Red and Orange Produce
Load up on carotenoid-rich foods to bring color to your skin. Some of the carotenoids in your diet get stored in the fatty tissue under your skin, and their orange hue contributes to your skin tone. A study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior in 2011, found that people who eat more carotenoids -- and therefore have more carotenoid pigment visible in their skin -- are perceived as healthier and have more a radiant glow to their skin.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and pumpkin are among the richest sources of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that's also used to make vitamin A. For fruit sources of carotenoids, look for watermelon, pink grapefruit, peaches, apricots and passion fruit.
Dark Green Veggies
Load up on dark green veggies, especially leafy greens, to enhance your skin's color. Leafy greens, like collards, turnip greens, kale, spinach, mustard greens and dandelion greens, are all very high in carotenoids. Bok choy, peas and carrots, green peas, beet greens and asparagus also boost your carotenoid intake. Get more creative and incorporate carotenoid-rich sea vegetables, like laver or kelp, into your diet to add more variety as you get more carotenoids.
Foods High in Iron
Eating foods high in iron can also help you maintain a healthy skin tone. Low iron levels result in iron-deficiency anemia, which causes a pale complexion, along with a lack of energy, shortness of breath and brittle nails. While iron-rich food won't add more color to your skin if you're not iron-deficient, it can prevent a deficiency that would cause paleness. Get more iron by incorporating lean beef, chicken and pork into your diet, or eat lentils, beans, spinach, peanut butter and whole grains as vegetarian-friendly iron sources.
Not all color in your skin is welcome, and some foods can cause redness or flushing. Alcohol can cause flushing, for example, especially if your genetics don't allow you to process alcohol properly. Certain foods can also aggravate rosacea, causing redness. Stay away from common triggers like hot beverages and spicy fare.
- Evolution and Human Behavior: Carotenoid and Melanin Pigment Coloration Affect Perceived Human Health
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Beta Carotene
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron
- Go Ask Alice: Face Turns Red After Drinking
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Rosacea