What are the top vegetables, fruits and other foods that feed healthy, flawless skin? In her new book, Plant-Based Beauty, author Jess Arnaudin tells us.
There’s no need to make a case for vegetables. Whether you’re obsessed with all things veggie, or you have negative childhood memories of “not leaving the table until you’ve finished your Brussels sprouts,” most of us know that vegetables benefit our general health. But did you know that some vegetables are higher in skin-loving antioxidants and more beneficial than others? Here they are!
SWEET POTATOES AND CARROTS
These two orange beauties both contain beta-carotene. When you ingest beta-carotene, your body converts it to vitamin A, which is nature’s retinol! You may have seen retinol in many mainstream skincare products, but eating this powerful antioxidant in its organic form likewise helps to repair skin damage and speed tissue healing. It’s especially good to eat when you have a breakout.
Broccoli contains sky-high levels of vitamin C (the highest of all cruciferous vegetables), which is essential for the synthesis of collagen, the protein that gives structure to your skin. Broccoli also contains vitamins E and A, so it’s a triple threat to oxidative aggressors that age the skin at a cellular level.
KALE, COLLARD GREENS AND SWISS CHARD
Vitamin A, found in these dark leafy greens, normalizes oil production, so it’s especially helpful for oily, acne-prone skin. These greens are all delicious and beneficial when incorporated into a broth-based soup.
BEETROOT AND BEET GREENS
Packed with folate, iron, fiber, potassium and manganese, these vibrant root vegetables add a unique earthiness to raw juices and salads. Beet greens (the top leafy part of the plant) are delicious in soups and with sautéed veggies.
It’s no wonder garlic is a staple ingredient in kitchens around the world. It contains a compound called allicin that helps to kill bacteria, reduce inflammation and improve circulation, and offers antioxidant benefits.
Eat a rainbow! By loading up on fruits that represent the full spectrum of color, you’ll absorb a wide array of wholesome nutritional properties from your multicolored plate. Fruits are generally high in fiber and loaded with vitamin C, which boosts collagen production and supports optimal adrenal function to help you better cope with the stresses of daily life at a cellular level.
These beauty foods are packed with healthy omega fats, which nourish and hydrate skin from within. The antioxidants in avocados renew damaged skin cells, help retain moisture and benefit skin elasticity.
This exotic fruit from South America was recently dubbed a superfood, because the berries are rich in skin-protecting antioxidants, trace minerals, amino acids and electrolytes.
These tiny berries work wonders for the skin! They are notably high in antioxidants, which are essential for reversing the effects of oxidative damage from our environment.
We all know about the glow-inducing benefits of minimally processed coconut oil applied topically, so it's no surprise the delicious meat is equally valuable. Fresh, young coconut meat contains B vitamins, potassium, amino acids, fiber and live enzymes that help to boost immunity and bathe your skin with micronutrients from the inside out.
Lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps boost and strengthen collagen production and also works to neutralize excess acid in the body. The minerals found in lemons create more alkalinity, which can help soothe irritated skin, improve digestive health and fortify your immune system.
PINK AND RED GRAPEFRUIT
This breakfast staple is a brilliant beauty food and makes for a tangy, energizing start to your day. Red and pink grapefruit varieties get their gorgeous coral hue from carotenoids, which help to brighten skin tone and boost skin’s elasticity.
Resveratrol, a plant polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes, is a powerful antioxidant, thought to protect against the sun’s UV radiation and thus a skincare industry buzzword.
This ancient golden root is a skin hero, packed with a bioactive compound called curcumin, which reduces inflammation, evens skin tone and speeds wound healing. It’s a great addition for those working to heal atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
This warming spice contains potent antioxidants called polyphenols and flavonoids, which help to heal skin at the cellular level. Cinnamon is also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient and boosts circulation for a healthy, rosy glow.
Ginger is an all-star anti-inflammatory and invigorates the senses when taken internally or applied topically. I love adding fresh root ginger to blended smoothies and raw juices for an energizing burst of flavor.
PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS
This synergistic duo helps to rebalance the good bacteria in your digestive system—they nourish your gut on the inside, so that you’ll glow on the outside! Fermented food
and drinks, such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, are rich in probiotics. Onions, leeks, asparagus and garlic are all good sources of prebiotics.
Brewed tea made from dandelion leaves boasts skin health benefits and helps aid in efficient digestion. You can also explore culinary uses for the root and flower, which are both edible.
AND...ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are powerful anti-inflammatory glow foods that moisturize your skin from the inside out.
This tiny-but-mighty speck of a seed contains more omega-3 in a single serving than salmon, and more antioxidants than blueberries. They’re also an excellent source of protein and can help sustain your energy levels, which makes chia seeds a great mid-afternoon snack.
Flaxseeds are a delightful way to incorporate more fiber and skin-moisturizing omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Add to homemade bread, muffins, granola and smoothies —or sprinkle over avocado toast or porridge with fresh berries.
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid) and polyphenols, which help to hydrate skin and provide antioxidant support.
WALNUTS AND ALMONDS
These are great omega-rich beauty food snack options, both for their versatility and portability. Add walnuts to a salad or keep a stash of almonds at your desk for when hunger strikes.