Your epidermis, a.k.a your skin, is the largest organ on your body. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the food we eat can impact its overall health. Foods such as fatty fish (salmon, herring, etc.), broccoli, and kale have been staples in skin healthy dinner plans. But must we be slaves to the green leafy gods or are there skin-approved snacks out there we can indulge in to keep our epidermis in tip-top shape?
Luckily, there is actually a number of satisfying snacks that will make both your tastebuds and your skin happy. As single parents, we don’t have time to roast our own kale chips or skin our own home-grown sweet potatoes. And thankfully, we don’t have to – at least not for this. Check out our list below and be happy you don’t have to carry a bag of spinach around to naw on before your 2pm meeting.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin; they are a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself. In fact, they are richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
A diet too high in omega-6 fats promotes inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of the skin like psoriasis. Omega-3 fats, on the other hand, help reduce inflammation in the body, including in the skin. What’s more, walnuts contain other nutrients that your skin needs to function properly and stay healthy. One ounce (28 grams) contains 6% of the RDI for zinc, which is essential for the skin to function properly as a barrier, as well as necessary for wound healing and fighting both bacteria and inflammation.
2. Dark Chocolate
As if you needed one more reason to eat chocolate, the effects of cocoa on skin are pretty impressive. One study found that after 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants, participants experience thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn and had better blood flow, which brings more nutrients to the skin.
Another study found that regularly eating just 20 grams of dark chocolate high in antioxidants per day could allow skin to withstand more than twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared to eating chocolate low in antioxidants. Evidence shows that cocoa may be a powerful tool for keeping your skin young and protected from damage. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa in order to maximize the health benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
3. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene. One cup (149 grams) of chopped, red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 92% of the RDI for vitamin A. They are also one of the best sources of vitamin C, the antioxidant that’s necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. One cup of bell pepper provides an impressive 317% of the RDI for vitamin C.
A large observational study in women found that eating plenty of vitamin C was associated with a lower chance of skin appearing wrinkled and becoming dry with age. Bell peppers are great as snacks, just slice into strips – they keep well without refrigeration so don’t worry, they’ll be fine in your tote bag all day so you can grab them in-between the office and the gym for a quick snack.
Avocados are high in healthy fats – yes, the good fats. These fats benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin. Getting enough of these fats is important for keeping skin flexible and moisturized. One study of over 700 women found that a high intake of total fat, specifically the types of healthy fats found in avocados, was associated with having more supple, springy skin.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect the skin from oxidative damage. Preliminary evidence also shows that avocados contain compounds that may protect the skin against sun damage. UV damage to the skin can cause signs of aging, such as wrinkling so pack some avocado slices in your lunch for a quick bite with some multi-grain chips or crackers or dice up a ‘cado with a mango for a sweet treat.
5. Green Tea
Green tea may also have the ability to protect your skin from damage and aging. The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins, and they work to protect and improve the health of your skin in several ways. Like several other antioxidant-containing foods, regularly consuming green tea can help protect your skin against sun damage.
One 12-week study in 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25%. It also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness and elasticity of their skin. Although this technically isn’t a ‘snack,’ I’ve been told many times that sometimes when we get hungry, we are really dehydrated. So before you reach for a snack, consider hydrating with some green tea. I mean, it might work, if not, go back to 1-4 on the list.
6. Red Wine
My favorite one on the entire list – red wine! It is famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes. Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, and reducing the effects of aging is one the most well-known. The skin has specific binding sites for resveratrol. When applied to the skin, this compound has been shown to slow skin’s aging. When consumed, it’s also able to reduce the production of harmful free radicals, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging.
It’s not a good idea to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. But if you drink in moderation anyway, you might want to consider red wine as your drink of choice.
There are numerous other foods that can help your skin so snack wisely. This list was taken, in part, from this article at healthline.com, read it for additional other food choices and to learn more about how diet affects the body.