Although many factors affect our skin, good nutrition plays a key role in giving skin its healthy glow and can help minimize skin problems.
One of the best defenses against the free radical damage of oxidation is a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods. Research suggests that certain antioxidants—vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin A—nourish and protect skin to prolong its youthful appearance. Some topical antioxidant preparations also have been shown to affect a variety of skin problems.
This week we take a look at seven key nutrients to include in your diet for healthier skin.
1. Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and protects cells from free radical damage. Studies have shown that when lab animals consumed vitamin C-fortified food, their skin was more able to fight off oxidative damage. It is important to replenish your skin’s vitamin C stores by eating plenty of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.
Best foods for vitamin C: Guava, bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos, mustard greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, raspberries, blackberries, cabbage, watermelon, tangerines, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons
2. Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes and guard against UV radiation damage. Recent studies have raised some questions about the safety of vitamin E supplements so these nutrients should come from your diet.
Best foods for vitamin E: Wheat germ oil, fortified whole grain cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, wheat germ, avocado, pine nuts, tomato paste, flaxseed oil, red bell pepper, canola oil, kiwi, peanuts, olive oil, mangos, turnip greens, Brazil nuts, asparagus, peaches, papaya, radicchio, collard greens, broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach
3. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that helps safeguard the skin from sun damage and delays aging by protecting skin quality and elasticity. Dietary selenium has been shown to reduce sun damage and even prevent some skin cancers in animals. Be sure to get your selenium from food, though, and not supplements.
Best foods for selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, oysters, tilapia, whole-wheat pasta, cod, shrimp, whole-wheat breads, turkey, wheat germ, brown rice, chicken breast, cottage cheese, mushrooms, eggs
4. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene/vitamin A is involved in the growth and repair of body tissues and may protect against sun damage. Beta carotene from food is entirely safe, but avoid extra supplements.
Best foods for beta carotene: sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, apricots, spinach, lettuce (romaine, green leaf, red leaf), collard greens, Swiss chard, watercress, grapefruit, watermelon, cherries, mangos, tomatoes, guava, asparagus, red cabbage
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