What to Eat for Gorgeous Skin

Certain food and nutrients keep your skin healthy and protect against sun damage and premature aging. Find out what to eat to keep your skin looking its best.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #285

Nutrients for a Healthy Glow

Diligent use of sunscreen can prevent skin cancer but it will also keep you from getting that sun-kissed glow. Once again: nutrition to the rescue! Eating foods high in carotenoids can actually give your skin a healthier color. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, red peppers, kale, spinach, and apricots are all good choices. Scottish researchers found that eating 3 additional servings of these foods per day led to rosier, healthier-looking skin after just 6 weeks. Consider it self-tanning from the inside.

Minerals for Healthy Skin

Virtually all the essential minerals play a role in keeping skin healthy but zinc and selenium appear to be especially important. Both help prevent and repair damage from ultra-violet radiation. Both are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants as well. Many sunscreens contain zinc oxide but these molecules are too large to be absorbed into the body. Dietary sources are your best bet here.

Shellfish are rich in both zinc and selenium; nuts and legumes are good vegan alternatives.  Brazil nuts are a particularly good source of selenium. There’s no need to go overboard, though—and in fact, it is possible to get too much of a good thing, especially from supplements. As long as you are eating a good variety of whole and minimally processed foods, you should be fine.

See also: Can You Get Too Many Vitamins?


Foods to Avoid for Healthy Skin

Of course, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat, especially when it comes to blemishes and acne.  Contrary to urban legend, chocolate and pepperoni do not cause breakouts. But research suggests that diets high in sugar and processed foods may. If you struggle with acne, try cutting back on processed and junk foods to see if it helps. Some people also find that limiting their intake of high fat dairy products can reduce breakouts.

See also: Diet and Acne


Feed Your Skin Directly

Finally, skin is the one organ that we can feed directly! Certain nutrients can be absorbed directly through the skin. Quite frankly, I think a lot of the high-priced antioxidant skin care products out there are a waste of money. If you want to treat your skin to some high quality nutrition, try my homemade smoothie facial. In addition, sunflower and almond oil are both rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E and make excellent, skin-nourishing body oils.

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Have a great week and remember to eat something good for me!

Colorful cereal, fresh veggies, skin health, woman eating salad, and skin layers images courtesy of Shutterstock. 


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.