Did your most recent facial consist of a yogurt container exploding onto your face? (And no, that’s not a euphemism.) You’re not alone. Having a really intense job, being a mom, starting a company, or doing anything else all-consuming means making some sacrifices. But you don’t have to let general skincare fall to the wayside because your life is full to the brim. No time to apply an assortment of creams and lotions? Fortunately, there are several foods you can eat to help your skin. Because if you’re anything like me, you always find time to eat.
Just like skincare products, food plays an important part in enhancing your complexion. Why is that? Because certain foods contain many of the same vitamins and nutrients that beauty companies inject into their anti-aging, skin-smoothing regimens. Just, ya know, in an edible form.
From fruits and veggies to meats and nuts, here are 13 foods your skin is as into as you are. Try incorporating just one of them into each meal — small steps go a long way toward clearing and brightening your complexion.
1. Green Tea
I wouldn’t suggest skipping your daily cup of coffee (Lord knows I need mine to function), but trading your afternoon fix for some green tea could change your complexion for the better. Green tea is loaded with EGCG, an antioxidant that reactivates dry skin cells and leaves you with a smoother complexion. More recently, researchers have found evidence suggesting EGCG reduces the risk of developing various cancers.
If Beyonce bows down to kale, then so should I. This leafy green provides you with plenty of vitamin C (134 percent of your daily dose in one serving), which boosts collagen levels and leaves skin tighter. Still hesitant to try kale? Try blending it into a smoothie for a refreshing, skin-firming breakfast.
You didn’t think the tomato could get any better, did you? In addition to helping your heart, the lycopene found in tomatoes has been shown to increases skin’s protection against UV rays and reduce signs of aging. Lycopene levels are higher in cooked tomatoes, so to get the maximum benefit, stock up on tomato sauce, soup, and juice. If you can afford it, spring for organic products with as few additives as possible.
4. Grass-Fed Beef
Red meat doesn’t have a reputation for being a health food. But when eaten in moderation, grass-fed beef can do wonders for your skin. Because collagen is comprised mostly of protein, getting your daily dose is essential for keeping skin soft and wrinkle-free. Though plenty of tasty non-meat protein sources exist, beef packs roughly 25 grams of protein into a 3.5-ounce serving. Grass-fed beef has more omega-3 than its grain-fed counterpart, so opt for it when you can.
They may be small, but seeds pack a large number of skin-boosting nutrients, the most notable being vitamin E. A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E protects skin from UV rays and acts an an anti-inflammatory to reduce skin’s redness. Although any variety containing these healing powers will do, sunflower seeds provide the most vitamin E – 7.4 mg per 1 ounce serving to be exact.
If you thought cucumbers were the key to combatting undereye bags, think again. Loaded with vitamin K, a key element to eliminating dark circles, kiwi goes a long way toward brightening your baby blues (or browns, or greens, or hazels).
There are plenty of fish in the sea, but this river swimmer offers the most benefits for your skin. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is the root cause of acne. But there’s more good news for fish fans. A 2013 study suggests that eating salmon could help prevent skin cancer if you have it twice a week.
8. Olive Oil
They call it liquid gold for a reason. Olive oil, especially the virgin variety, is packed with monounsaturated fatty acids that fight signs of aging. In addition, olive oil acts as an anti-inflammatory and can help ward of skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. So next time you’re at the salad bar, swap your creamy ranch for a drizzle of EVOO. Your skin will thank you.
Perfect alone or atop a bowl of yogurt, berries are a great way to hold on to your youthful complexion. Any variety of berry – blackberry, blueberry, and everything in between – contains high levels of vitamin C, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles. By substituting berries for your apple a day, you’ll improve your chances of keeping fine lines away.
Similar to seeds, any type of nut provides your body with skin-boosting properties. In addition to vitamin E and omega-3 fats, nuts contain zinc – a nutrient that maintains college levels, which are essential to keeping your skin supple and smooth. Snack on them solo or throw them in a salad for a little extra crunch and nutrients.
With tanning bed usage on the decline (because, you know, they are horrible for you), women are searching for safer ways to achieve that sun kissed complexion. For those of who crave a tanner complexion, look no further than carrots. This brightly colored veggie contains high levels of carotenoid, a vitamin that helps you get that sun-kissed glow.
The trick to looking younger? A little tofu! Soy slows down the aging process by retaining skin’s elasticity. If you’re hesitant to try tofu, snack on some edamame or sip on a glass of soy milk to get your dose of this anti-aging remedy.
13. Dark Chocolate
Any excuse to eat chocolate, right? The phytonutrients flavonoids found in cocoa help your skin reflect UV lights, thus reducing the damage done by the sun. These anti-gaining flavonoids have also been shown to reduce skin roughness and scaliness, leaving you with a complexion that’s as smooth as. . . well, chocolate. But before you stock up on candy bars, you should know that these skin benefits only come from consuming chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 70 or higher. Sorry milk chocolate fans.
Images: Courtesy of kazzakova/Fotolia; Kanko, Jennifer, rpavich, Alpha, Alan Levine, Lablascovegmenu, Ernesto Andrade, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Janine, Adam Wyles, CCHarmon, BlueWaikiki, John Loo/Flickr