In a recent interview, Victoria Beckham claimed that eating salmon every day is the secret behind her glowing complexion (along with wearing sunscreen and drinking loads of water). While at first it might sound silly to attribute your great skin to a regular salmon dinner, there’s actually quite a bit of truth to the saying, “you are what you eat.” I decided to do my research and find out just what foods are great for your skin and why. Here are the superfoods you should eat for healthy skin.
Posh Spice’s skin-boosting food of choice, salmon, is a superfood loaded with omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, mackerel, and herring are also known to contain the same fatty acid).
How it works:
Omega-3 acids have been shown to help reduce inflammation, which can help with skin prone to irritation, redness, and rosacea flare-ups. Studies have also shown that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA for short), one of the omega-3s found in salmon, helps to block the release of collagen-eating enzymes that cause skin to lose elasticity and develop wrinkles.
Made popular in recent years as the bright-red topping of choice for many Instagram-quality smoothie bowls, goji berries are the crown jewel of antioxidant-rich foods.
How they work:
Quick science lesson alert! You’ve probably seen the phrase “antioxidants” mentioned on the packaging of plenty of your skin care products, but you might have been unsure what that meant. Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidization of other molecules. When oxidization occurs in a molecule, electrons are lost within and free radicals are produced. Free radicals damage and can even destroy a cell completely. When healthy cells in the skin are damaged by free radicals, skin begins to look aged, tired, and dull, which is why your best line of defense is to use products with antioxidant ingredients (like the Manefit Natural Gift Green Tea Pore Care Sheet Mask) and eat antioxidant-rich foods.
Goji berries are one of the highest-scoring antioxidant fruits in terms of their ability to absorb and eliminate free radicals. I like to sprinkle a handful on top of my oatmeal in the morning. Other great superfood berries to add to your breakfast for antioxidant benefits? Wild blueberries, elderberries, blackberries, and cranberries.
If you don’t like fish, you can get your omega-3 fix from chia seeds instead—two tablespoons of chia seeds have a higher concentration of omega-3s than salmon!
How they work:
Along with carrying the hormone-balancing, anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant ingredient known for its ability to hydrate skin and keep it supple and silky-soft. Try mixing chia seeds into coconut milk and top with fruit to make chia pudding, or sprinkle them on salads for a crunchy, health-boosting topper.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color, but it has been revered for centuries for its healthy benefits, particularly those seen in the skin.
How it works:
A high concentration of an active compound called curcumin is found in turmeric, and it’s a powerhouse ingredient known to be anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and strongly antioxidant. Taken as a supplement, curcumin can reduce the inflammation that causes acne and rosacea, and applied directly to the skin, a paste of turmeric and honey can shrink blemishes overnight, thanks to their antibacterial properties.
How it works:
Green tea is an amazing partner to sunscreen. A study showed that those who took a green tea supplement for 12 weeks (equivalent to two cups daily) showed less skin redness and inflammation after exposure to the sun, thanks to the antioxidant properties of the tea’s polyphenols. Coupled with a daily SPF, a morning cup of matcha will help your skin protect itself from damaging UV rays better than simply applying sunscreen alone.
I love sweet potatoes for all the benefits they carry: They’re great for your skin and your health, and they’re also delicious and filling. Baking them ensures they retain their healthy properties, and the edible flesh is high in fiber and potassium.
How they work: Sweet potatoes, like goji berries, are high in antioxidants. Loaded with vitamin A and C, they help to protect the skin, prevent signs of aging, and ease inflammation. They also contain biotin, which is known to strengthen hair and nails.
I know, it’s not really a food, and you’re probably sick of being told to drink more, but upping your intake of H20 is the best way to see an instant improvement in your skin’s tone, texture, and ability to retain moisture.
How it works: Water helps to plump up the skin, and many structures that support collagen require water in order to work. Have you ever looked in the mirror after drinking one too many dehydrating lattes and noticed that fine lines suddenly appear more noticeable than usual? That’s your skin crying out for a glass (or five) of water.
Your skin also requires a healthy balance of oil and water to keep itself in check. If you notice your skin looks greasier than usual, it could be a sign of dehydration sending your skin into oil production-overload. Up your regular intake of water and try to use a sebum-balancing treatment like the Neogen Blemish Soothing & Sebum Controlling Mask.
If drinking water is a bore, mix it up by infusing it with different healthy flavor combinations. A few slices of cucumber and kiwi and some sprigs of mint create a refreshing taste that still provides hydrating benefits.