superfoods

Eat This, Not That for Better Skin

The right face wash and moisturizers can only do so much to keep your skin looking healthy and young.

Eat This!

Eat This, Not That for Better Skin

The right face wash and moisturizers can only do so much to keep your skin looking healthy and young.

In fact, despite what ads and commercials may tell you, the real key to a healthy complexion doesn’t come from a bottle, it starts with what’s on your plate—and this is a secret celebs have known for years! In fact, it’s the very reason stars like musical sensation Alicia Keys and Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr incorporate daily diet tweaks to their skin care regimens. Sure genetics and lifestyle habits (like smoking and tanning) can influence how your skin looks too, but fighting back against your complexion woes on all possible fronts will only help the cause.

So whether you need to fight back against acne (like Ms. Keys), ward off premature aging (like Kerr), reduce the appearance wrinkles or fight back against another pesky skin condition, the right diet can be a valuable aid. Below, we reveal eight foods to steer clear of if you want to nourish your skin from the inside out, and what skin-improving eats to nosh on instead.

TO COMBAT UV DAMAGE

Drink This

Low-Sodium Tomato Juice (8 oz)

Calories 50
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 140 mg

Not That!

Soda (8 oz)

Calories 93
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 30 mg

Fight tomato-hued sunburns and the subsequent skin damage with juice made from the bright red vegetable of the same name. A cup of the beverage serves up a hefty dose of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects skin from harmful sun rays and boosts levels of procollagen, a protein that preserves skin structure. If you’re not a fan of the drink, we don’t blame you—it’s quite the acquired taste. Instead, reap the skin-protecting benefits by eating watermelon or adding low-sodium tomato paste to your cooking. The one thing you shouldn’t replace tomato juice with? Caffeinated beverages like soda and coffee. Too much caffeine can interfere with sleep—the time our cells repair themselves and fight back against skin-harming sun damage.

TO COMBAT PREMATURE AGEING

Eat This

Olive Oil (1 Tbsp)

Calories 119
Fat 13.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g

Not That!

Vegetable Oil (1 Tbsp)

Calories 120
Fat 14 g
Saturated Fat 2 g

Your body looks like a young athletic teenager, but you worry that your face is starting to look old before its time. If you spend a lot of time outdoors or have gotten a few too many sunburns, that’s likely the cause. Instead of investing in a slew of questionable anti-aging products, head to your kitchen and take out the olive oil. The cooking staple is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been proven to lower the risk of premature aging caused by ultraviolet radiation. While the popular Mediterranean oil has nearly 10 grams of the age-defying nutrient per tablespoon, vegetable oil only serves up 1.6 grams. The age-defying winner here is clear!

TO COMBAT DARK CIRCLES

Eat This

Applegate Organics Organic Roasted Turkey Breast (2 oz)

Calor 50
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 360 mg

Not That!

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Turkey Breast, Oven Roasted (2 oz)

Calories 50
Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 440 mg

Sure, getting a good night’s rest will make you feel more refreshed, but if you’re prone to pesky dark circles, it won’t necessarily make you look any more alert. Why? Because aging—not sleep—is the primary source of dark circles other than genetics. Over time, the skin loses collagen and thins, making the veins beneath the eyes more visible. While you may have heard that selenium-rich foods like turkey can boost the production of collagen, picking up any old package of lunch meat won’t do. Certain varieties (like the Oscar Mayer product mentioned above) are laced with sodium nitrates that boost oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause structural changes in collagen, resulting in increased under-eye transparency, under-eye bags and wrinkles. Applegate Organics Organic Roasted Turkey Breast, on the other hand, are free of the damaging nitrates, but remain rich in protective selenium.

TO COMBAT ACNE

Eat This

Whole-Grain Bread (1 slice)

Calories 69
Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Carbs 11 g
Fiber 1.9 g

Not That!

White Bread (1 slice)

Calories 79
Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Carbs 14.7 g
Fiber 0.7 g

Despite what you may have heard, simply cutting out chocolate and fries won’t cure your acne. What will? Swapping white bread for the whole-grain variety. Besides being void of any health-boosting nutrients, the white stuff has a high glycemic load, which means it impacts blood sugar and insulin levels more so than foods that rank lower on the glycemic index (GI), like whole grains. During a 10-week Korean study of subjects with mild to moderate acne, researchers found that those placed on a low-glycemic diet decreased the severity of their acne more so than subjects on a high-glycemic diet. Besides whole-grain breads, fruits, beans, vegetables, fish and barley are all considered to be low GI foods.

TO COMBAT WRINKLES

Eat This

Yellow Bell Peppers (1 cup, sliced)

Calories 18
Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 1.6 g
Sugar 2.2 g

Not That!

Oranges (1, small)

Calories 45
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 2.3 g
Sugar 9 g

Citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges are certainly healthy, nutritious eats, but beware: If juices from these refreshing fruits drip onto your skin while you’re preparing or munching on them, they can act as topical photosensitizers and lead to horrible, wrinkle-causing sunburns, according to a Journal of Travel Medicine study. Not to mention, a burn can be seriously painful! Next time you’re in need of a snack on a hot, sunny day, much on some vitamin C-rich green or yellow bell peppers instead. In a study of over 700 Japanese women, researchers found that the more yellow and green vegetables subjects ate, the less apt they were to have wrinkles and crows feet—even after controlling for smoking and sun exposure. A study out of the UK concours. The British research crew found that those who consume vitamin C-rich diets have fewer wrinkles than those who consume less of the nutrient.

TO COMBAT DULL SKIN

Eat This

Baked Sweet Potato (1 cup, cubed)

Calories 176
Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 14 mg
Carbs 41 g

Not That!

French Fries (1 cup)

Calories 182
Fat 9.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.2 g
Sodium 110 mg
Carbs 21 g

After a long, dry winter it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your complexion looks duller than usual. Luckily, adding some baked sweet potatoes to your plate is an easy way to restore your glow. A 2012 study found a link between consuming carotenoid-rich vegetables (like the orange spuds) and improved skin radiance. A medium sweet potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of the nutrient, while their salty cousin, the French fry, will strip water from your skin, making it appear even duller.

TO COMBAT DRY SKIN

Drink This

Flaxseed Oil (from 1 Tbsp seeds)

Calories 55
Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 0 g

Not That!

Hard Alcohol (1 oz, 80 proof hard alcohol)

Calories 64
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g

Sure, a quality moisturizer will help fight back against dry skin, but if you really want to improve the situation, you’ve got to feed your face from the inside out—and flaxseed oil is one the best foods for the job, according to a British Journal of Nutrition study. When study participants with sensitive dry skin consumed flaxseed oil daily for three weeks, their skin was more hydrated and less red and rough. You can substitute flaxseed oil in any fresh juice or smoothie recipe that calls for flaxseeds. Adding a shot of booze to your beverage, on the other hand, will only make your skin situation worse. Not only are your taste buds hankering for some hydration after consuming alcohol, so is your skin. The dehydration not only makes your skin look flakey and red, but also temporarily makes fine lines more noticeable.

TO COMBAT SKIN CANCER RISK

Eat This

Walnuts (1 ounce, 14 nuts)

Calories 185
Fat 18 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g

Not That!

Macadamia Nuts (1 ounce, 12 nuts)

Calories 204
Fat 21.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.4 g

Sunscreen, hats and beach umbrellas are obvious tools in your skin cancer-fighting arsenal. Walnuts? Not so much. But consuming just five grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids may be able to lower the risk of skin cancer or slow its development, according to an American Society for Nutrition study—and just one serving of walnuts will provide more than double that amount. Although macadamia nuts won’t hurt your skin, they don’t even carry a gram of the protective fatty acid and are higher in calories. Our advice? Stick with the walnuts and stay out of direct sun to stay safe.