6 Foods Your Skin Will Love

Fill your plate with nutrient-rich foods for younger-looking, glowing skin.

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What's the best advice for healthy, beautiful, young-looking skin? Eat up! “A balanced diet of whole foods may offer great antioxidant protection that can make your skin look and feel healthier and younger, and may decrease the risk of skin cancer," says James Ralston, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical City McKinney and founder of the Dermatology Center of McKinney in Texas. Read on for six skin-boosting foods—plus a tasty recipe for each.

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Turn Back Time with Berries

Every woman over 30 wants to know what to eat to help minimize wrinkles and maintain a youthful complexion. While avoiding UV rays from the sun is the best way to prevent early skin aging, important nutrients in certain plant foods can help protect and heal the skin. Berries in particular contain three nutrients—vitamin C, which promotes DNA repair; inflammation-fighting phenolics; and resveratrol, an antioxidant—making them a powerful ally in fighting the signs of aging.

More best bets: Grape juice, red wine, peanuts and cocoa.

Skin-smart recipe: Mixed Berry Salsa

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Get Glowing with Kale

It takes more than a hefty dose of highlighter to get that lit-from-within look. What you really need are foods rich in carotenoids, says Dr. Ralston. A great choice: Raw kale, which contains almost 950 micrograms of beta-carotene per cup for a mere 8 calories. Use kale as a base for a deep green salad, or try tossing it in pasta or adding it to soups.

More best bets: Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes and mango.

Skin-smart recipe: Gingery Strawberry-Kale Smoothie

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Serve Up Fatty Fish for Skin Protection

Ralston says that more studies are needed, but there is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish, may lessen the risk of some types of skin cancer. The American Heart Association suggests eating at least two (3.5 ounce) servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout and sardines, weekly.

More best bets: Flax, hemp and chia seeds, walnuts and dark leafy greens.

Skin-smart recipe: Norwegian-Style Oven Roasted Salmon


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Beauty and the Beet

Along with fiber, nitrates and other nutrients, bright, colorful beets are rich in nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that some research suggests may fight non-melanoma skin cancers. For a B3 boost, add shredded beets to your salad, or try roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness.

More best bets: Fortified breads and cereals, Brewer’s yeast, beef liver, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds and peanuts.

Skin-smart recipe: Grilled beets

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Awesome Almonds

When it comes to protecting your skin, vitamin E is like a BB cream; it provides several benefits all at once. A must-have in your beauty diet arsenal, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radical damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light. This vitamin may also have a role as an anti-inflammatory. Vitamin E is especially important for aging skin, as concentration of the vitamin in skin declines with age. Nuts, and specifically almonds, are an excellent source of vitamin E and have the highest amount per ounce of all tree nuts.

More best bets: Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanut butter and spinach.

Skin-smart recipe: Blueberry-Almond Smoothie

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Choose Chocolate

You've probably heard that a few nibbles a day of dark chocolate can help your heart. But the perks don't stop there: Components of the cocoa bean may help protect the skin against harmful UV rays. And research shows that cocoa flavanols help boost blood flow, which improves the skin's appearance. Still other studies suggest cocoa may help prevent some skin diseases. Of course, to reap all these benefits, you'd have to eat several chocolate bars a day—and that would add up the calories fast. Try stirring a little unsweetened cocoa powder into yogurt, or add to coffee.

More best bets: Apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.

Skin-smart recipe: Macadamia Nut Clusters

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More Skin Helpers

Along with eating healthy foods, staying properly hydrated is key for glowing skin. "Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry and tired," says Ralston. Plus, "Skin that is hydrated can better heal from the day’s damage," he adds. After showering, be sure to apply moisturizer, which traps water in the skin and can help reduce the appearance of some fine lines and brighten your complexion. And of course, the most effective way to avoid any type of damage to the skin is to prevent it in the first place. Stay in the shade as much as possible, wear protective clothing and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

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