We’ve all heard the usual admonitions to eat your greens, berries, and fatty fish to get great skin! But if you’re looking for something more adventurous than the usual green fare, you could try adding some zing to your meals with bell pepper, or slurping down an oyster.
Not what you expected? Here are five surprising foods you can eat to get a glowing complexion!
Collagen is easily the dominant force when it comes to skin health. It is the connective tissue responsible for skin’s resilience and elasticity, and aids in the renewal of skin cells. Your skin remains supple when there is an abundance of collagen; however, stress can speed up the aging process and destroy collagen fibres. The loss of collagen causes the skin to sag and wrinkle.
An important component of collagen is zinc, and the richest source of dietary zinc is oysters. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, oysters contain more zinc per serving compared to any other food. While zinc can also be found in other types of seafood as well as red meat and poultry, oysters beat those other sources out by 90%. Plus, if you’re looking to keep your skin free of oil, you’d do well to avoid meat anyway!
Take note that compounds called phytates from whole-grain breads and cereals inhibit the absorption of zinc; avoid eating these at the same time as your oysters to ensure you get as much as possible out of their zinc content.
2. Bell peppers
Bell peppers contain antioxidants and vitamins E, A, B6 and C that lend the skin a dewy glow. This last one is the most important – vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, which helps maintain the firmness of the skin for much longer. Vitamin C also encourages wound healing – if you have sores that won’t heal, consider adding more vitamin C to your diet.
Bell peppers are also infused with carotenoids, the pigmented compounds that give them their warm red, yellow, and orange colours. Carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene decrease sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Others like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin can even prevent skin cancer.
Eat bell peppers during summer to ramp up your skin’s protection from the sun (supplemented by the use of sunscreen, of course!). And if you must eat only one variety, choose red bell peppers. Red bell peppers yield twice as much vitamin C than other bell pepper varieties.
Pomegranates are a traditional symbol of health and vitality – and it can certainly mean good health for your skin if you eat pomegranate seeds or drink pomegranate juice!
Pomegranates are an excellent source of ellagic acid and polyphenols. Ellagic acid is one of the most potent antioxidants out there, capable of protecting your skin against sun damage. Meanwhile, polyphenols work on the cells inside the body to prevent destruction from free radicals. They assist in regenerating the skin by lengthening the life of fibroblasts, the cells that produce collagen and elastin. A constant supply of collagen means smooth, youthful and wrinkle-free skin for much longer.
More than simply consuming pomegranates, you can also apply them straight to your skin as cleansers or toners! Pomegranate contains punicic acid and flavonoids that feed the epidermis, as well as anthocyanins and tannins that are effective at preventing skin cancer.
Pineapples are abundant in vitamin C – not surprising given their tangy flavour. Fresh pineapples provide 131% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They also contain an enzyme called bromelain that has anti-inflammatory properties – great for soothing irritated skin and acne breakouts. Finally, pineapples contain sulfur, a mineral which has antibacterial properties. Sulfur also promotes cell turnover, encouraging dry skin cells on the surface to slough off and be replaced with new ones.
Like pomegranates, pineapples also work wonders when applied to the face. The vitamin C in pineapples helps remove pimples when applied topically. Just don’t leave your pineapple face mask on for too long – it’s quite acidic and may cause a stinging sensation when used for over 20 minutes.
We’ve established vitamin C as necessary for collagen production and wound healing. Well-known sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges and lemons but did you know that guavas are a much richer source of vitamin C? The United States Department of Agriculture places the vitamin C content of guavas at about 228 mg – four times as much as oranges, which only contain 52 mg.
Guavas have antioxidants that delay the aging process, as well as the carotenoid lycopene, which protects the skin from UV damage. Another thing that makes the guava special is that it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to a compound called Pg-AMP1. Eating guavas can help kill the bacteria that cause acne and allow your pimples to clear up.