If you’re after a dewy, glowing complexion, you’ve got to do more than establish a solid skin-care routine. To support beauty from within, it’s essential to load up on the right nutrients—and that means upping your intake of certain skin-boosting whole foods.
From antioxidants to omega-3s and vitamin A, certain all-star nutrients are must-haves for keeping your skin in tip-top shape and avoiding signs of aging. Nutritionists and dermatologists recommend that the following skin-protecting superfoods make regular appearances on your plate.
Cherries, whether sweet or tart, feel like a summertime treat—but incorporating them into your eats year-round is a good move for your skin.
“Anthocyanins, antioxidants found in red and purple fruits and vegetables, are helpful in reducing the inflammation and free-radical damage in the skin caused by UV and everyday air pollution,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills.
“Anthocyanins are found in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries—but cherries have the highest levels of all,” she says. To reap maximum benefits, she recommends incorporating one serving of cherries into your daily diet. (That’s about one cup or approximately 21 cherries.)
If cherries are out of season, grab a bag of them from the freezer aisle. These cherries are picked and frozen at peak ripeness, so you’ll still score the antioxidants.
2. Sweet Potatoes
As if you needed another excuse to bake yourself a sweet potato or add it to your next breakfast hash, your skin will thank you for eating more of these tasty spuds.
“Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), providing about 137 percent of your daily value per serving,” says dietitian Gina Jones, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N. “Vitamin A is good for your skin because it promotes hydration and healthy cell production.” As a result, it may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and preserve skin firmness.
Plus, “consuming adequate beta-carotene and vitamin A through food can boost the skin’s immune system,” Jones adds.
Shoot for one or two servings of vitamin A-rich foods per day, she recommends. (One medium sweet potato is one serving.)
Seeds are loaded with healthy fats—and the fats in flax can do your skin good.
A tablespoon of ground flaxseeds provides around 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). “These fats are essential for skin health because they are structural components of your skin,” says dietitian Sofia Norton, M.S., R.D., writer for Kiss My Keto.
Read More: 3 Groups Of People Who Need More Omega-3s
The National Institutes of Medicine recommends men and women consume 1.6 and 1.1 grams of ALA per day, respectively. Try adding that tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your smoothie or oatmeal. Walnuts are also a great source of ALA, so consider adding them to snacks, smoothies, or oatmeal, too.
4. Red Bell Peppers
The crunchy sweetness of red bell peppers makes them a satisfying snack and the perfect vessel for every kind of dip under the sun—and they just so happen to be amazing for your skin.
“A cup of chopped red bell peppers has three times the vitamin C of one orange at over 300 percent of your recommended daily value,” says Norton. “Your skin needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein that keeps skin firm and youthful.” It also offers antioxidant protection against damage caused by UV light and toxins.
Oh, and another sweet bonus: Red bell peppers are also brimming with vitamin A. Nosh on a pepper a day to reap the benefits.
Another red must-have for healthy skin? Tomatoes.
“Tomatoes are the key to reviving inner glow,” says dermatologist Dr. Amanda Doyle, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “This potent anti-aging food contains high levels of beta-carotene and lycopene.”
You already know the scoop about beta-carotene—and the antioxidant lycopene boosts antioxidant levels in the skin to reduce free radical damage. The result: Tomatoes help ward off inflammation and help maintain skin’s collagen production and its ability to protect against aging from excessive UVA and UVB exposure. “It’s a recipe for healthy aging from the inside out,” Doyle says.
In fact, a recent study published in Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmaceutics found that taking tomato-based supplements significantly boosted visible glow, enhanced complexion, and reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles among participants.
If you love tomatoes, pile them into salads and add plenty of tomato sauce to your pasta. If you don’t want to down tomatoes daily, “you can reap the skin and health benefits of tomatoes with a lycopene-rich supplement,” Doyle says.
Water may not be a food, per se, but its importance for your skin (and overall!) health can’t be overstated.
“Hydration is key to great skin,” Jones says. “As we age, most of us have dryer skin due to various reasons, including sun exposure and hormones.” As an antidote to that, guzzling down adequate H2O daily can work to promote cell renewal throughout the skin.
To stay optimally hydrated, drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces each day, Jones says. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, you’ll want to drink a baseline of 75 ounces of water. (If you exercise or sweat heavily, you’ll need more.)
Find plain water boring? Consider these eight fun ways to drink more.
7. Green Tea
Another potent beverage for skin health: good ol’ green tea.
“Green tea is one of the best anti-aging secrets,” says Doyle. “It contains potent anti-aging antioxidants called catechins that scavenge free radicals, which, if not removed, can damage the skin.” This sip has also been shown to protect against damage from the sun and pollution-related skin aging, she adds.
With regular consumption, you can expect a clearer, more even skin tone—and more youthful skin over time. Drink up to three cups of green tea every day, Doyle recommends.
Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook community, Eating Healthy, today!