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The 13 Best Foods For Healthy Skin – Health.com

8 minutes, 15 seconds Read

Your skin is your largest organ and makes up around one-seventh of your total body weight. The major function of your skin is to act as a barrier, protecting the rest of your body from the sun’s rays, hot and cold temperatures, germs, pathogens, and toxic substances.

Though most people focus on taking care of their skin from the outside by applying moisturizer, sunscreen, and other skincare products, following a nutritious, well-rounded diet is one of the most important factors in maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin.

Certain nutrients, such as selenium, zinc, omega-3 fats, and vitamins A, C, and E, help protect the skin from dehydration, loss of elasticity, and oxidative and sun-induced damage.

Regularly consuming foods rich in nutrients known to support and protect the skin may help slow signs of aging, reduce the risk of skin-related conditions, and improve skin moisture and elasticity.

Here are 13 of the best foods for skin health.  

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Strawberries are rich in skin health-promoting substances, such as vitamin C, anthocyanins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids.

Vitamin C is especially important for skin health, as it protects skin cells from oxidative damage and is essential for the production of collagen, the main protein in the body that accounts for 75% of your skin’s dry weight.

Your skin accumulates vitamin C, containing up to 64 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per 100 grams of the epidermal or outer skin layer.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, with a cup of sliced strawberries providing 97.6 mg or 108% of the Daily Value (DV).

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Keeping your gut healthy is essential for your skin. Dysbiosis, the medical term for an imbalanced gut, is linked to a number of skin conditions, such as acne and psoriasis, and studies suggest that the health of the skin and the gut are closely linked.

Eating foods rich in beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, and fiber, which helps fuel friendly microorganisms, is one of the best ways to support gut and skin health. 

Kimchi is a type of fermented dish that’s made with Chinese cabbage as well as other ingredients such as onions, radishes, carrots, and cucumbers. Kimchi is rich in probiotics and nutrients required for optimal skin health, including provitamin A and vitamin C.

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Blood oranges are a type of citrus fruit with nutrient-rich, red-colored flesh. The ruby color of blood oranges comes from high levels of powerful antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which can help protect skin cells from damage. Anthocyanins have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may be particularly beneficial for people with inflammatory skin disorders, such as acne.

Blood oranges are also high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production and helps protect skin cells against UV damage.

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Sunflower seeds are packed with protein, a nutrient that makes up the skin and is required for wound healing and the building of new skin cells. They’re also rich in vitamin E, which functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body.

Vitamin E plays an important role in skin health as it protects skin cells from sun damage, regulates inflammation, and is involved in the synthesis of collagen and elastin-proteins that help the skin to stretch and keep its youthful appearance. 

One ounce of sunflower seeds covers 49% of the DV for vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are also high in selenium and zinc, which are minerals that play important roles in skin health maintenance.

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To make bone broth, collagen-rich animal bones are simmered for long time periods, usually over eight hours, which produces a liquid that’s concentrated in nutrients that support skin health, like gelatin.

Gelatin is a substance derived from collagen that’s rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, and lysine, which are essential for collagen synthesis.

Sipping on a cup of bone broth can help you hydrate and provide your skin with the amino acids it needs to repair and regenerate its cells. 

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While organ meats, such as liver and heart, aren’t as popular as other protein sources, such as chicken and steak, organ meats are amongst the most nutrient-dense protein sources you can eat and provide a number of vitamins and minerals necessary for skin health.

For example, beef liver is rich in protein, and just one 85-gram serving covers your daily needs for copper, a mineral that protects the skin against the harmful effects of free radicals, and prevents oxidative damage to skin cells. It’s also involved in the maturation of collagen and the growth of skin cells.

Additionally, organ meats are a concentrated source of selenium, vitamin A, and zinc, all of which play important roles in skin health.

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Shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels, are a smart choice if you want healthy, glowing skin. Not only is shellfish a concentrated source of skin-supportive minerals like selenium, zinc, and copper, but shellfish is rich in protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

Shellfish, such as oysters, are especially high in zinc, a mineral that regulates inflammation in the skin and stimulates wound healing, and selenium, a mineral with powerful antioxidant properties that helps protect skin cells against oxidative damage and UV rays. Consuming six medium-sized oysters covers your daily needs for zinc and provides 30% of your daily needs for selenium. Shellfish also provide omega-3 fats, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects and play important roles in skin function and structure.

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Broccoli is a good source of fiber, which helps promote a healthy gut environment. This cruciferous vegetable is also high in vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols help inhibit certain enzymes involved in the breakdown of the skin proteins collagen and elastin, which can help slow signs of aging. These substances also help protect against UV damage, provide anti-inflammatory effects, accelerate skin regeneration, and may help improve blood circulation and elasticity in the skin. What’s more, broccoli is a source of beta-carotene, a provitamin A carotenoid that has antioxidant properties.

Eating vegetables, like broccoli, provides your body with the nutrients it needs to support healthy skin. Plus, a 2015 review of 18 studies found that people who consumed high amounts of vegetables, fruit, and fish, as well as beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, D, and E, were at a lower risk of developing skin cancer.

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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s essential for skin cell growth and the formation and function of the skin barrier, the outermost layer of the skin. Vitamin D also helps regulate inflammation and maintains the skin’s immune system, which helps protect the body from pathogens and other harmful substances.

Deficiencies in vitamin D are associated with inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Trout is one of the few foods that are concentrated in vitamin D. A 3-ounce serving of cooked trout provides 645IU of vitamin D, or 81% of the DV.  Trout also provides zinc, selenium, protein, and omega-3 fats. The omega-3 fats DHA and EPA may help protect against skin cancer and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit people with inflammatory skin diseases.

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Watermelon is more than 90% water, which makes it a delicious choice for keeping your skin hydrated from the inside out. Drinking plenty of water and consuming hydrating foods, like watermelon, can help keep your skin looking youthful because hydration helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and furrows.

Not only is watermelon hydrating, but it’s a good source of vitamin C and skin-supporting antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene.

It also provides the amino acid L-citrulline, which may help promote healthy circulation, which is important for nourishing skin cells. 

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Regularly consuming cherries may help improve overall health by lowering markers of oxidative stress, decreasing blood pressure, and supporting heart health. What’s more, cherries are rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamates, and Flavin-3-ols, which may help protect skin cells against UV damage.

Cherries are also high in vitamin C and provide fiber, which can help support a balanced gut environment, which is important for the maintenance of healthy skin.

Additionally, cherries contain compounds that may help promote restful sleep, such as melatonin, a compound that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Research suggests that consuming cherry products, like tart cherry juice, could improve sleep quality. Getting enough sleep is critical for healthy skin, as the skin repairs itself while you’re sleeping.

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Tomatoes are the main dietary source of the carotenoid lycopene, accounting for around 80% of the lycopene consumed by Americans. Lycopene has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to protect the skin against sun damage.

Plus, some study findings suggest that eating lycopene-rich tomatoes may help improve the appearance of your skin. 

A 2023 review that included 21 studies found that supplementation with tomatoes and lycopene supplements reduced skin redness and improved the appearance and pigmentation of the skin, thus preventing UV-induced skin damage and skin aging due to sun exposure.

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Smoothies are one of the best ways to pack a variety of skin-supporting foods into one nutritious beverage. Smoothies made with vitamin C-rich fruits like strawberries, a healthy source of fat, such as sunflower butter or almond butter, and a source of protein are a delicious way to fuel your skin from the inside out. 

Adding collagen peptides to your smoothie can enhance its skin-boosting effects. Research suggests that supplementing with collagen may improve certain aspects of skin health, including wrinkle depth, texture, elasticity, and hydration.

Your skin requires a steady supply of nutrients in order to stay healthy, hydrated, and youthful-looking.

Certain foods, such as strawberries, shellfish, sunflower seeds, kimchi, and broccoli, provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, like protein, that are essential to skin health. 

Try incorporating the foods listed above into your diet for an easy and tasty way to care for your skin.

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