Have you ever noticed that trendy diets often claim to clear your skin in addition to promising lightning-fast weight loss? Don’t assume it’s because of the foods you’re being asked to cut out. Although some small studies show an association between increased acne and foods with a high-glycemic index (white bread, sugar, processed cereals), there are no “rigorous” studies proving certain foods cause breakouts, says Hooman Khorasani, MD, chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
What does make a difference? Optimizing what you are eating. “[Healthy] food contains nutrients we need to fight and kill bad bacteria,” says New York City board-certified dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD. “Without them, the skin can feel threatened and become inflamed.”
Below, five nutrient-dense foods that can support healthy skin when part of a balanced diet.
The Best Foods for Healthy Skin
Coconut’s “healthy fats and antibacterial nutritional composition” have the potential to help keep acne away and help hydrate your skin, says Engelman. But Fitbit dietitian Tracy Morris notes research supports using coconut oil on your skin rather than eating it.
How to eat it: If you do want to enjoy the tropical treat, go easy (it’s loaded with saturated fat, after all!) and remember that not all coconut products are created equal. Check out these 6 Healthy Ways to Go Nuts for Coconut.
Eating this healthy, versatile fruit can help flood your complexion with all the good stuff. “Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, B vitamins, niacin and folate, and vitamins C and E, which all play a role in skin health,” says Morris. All those skin-enhancing vitamins could “help support the structures of collagen and elastin in your skin and keep your skin hydrated,” agrees Engelman.
Think kale and broccoli, and you’re on track. Veggies provide some iron, as well as B vitamins, and vitamins A and E, all of which could support your immune system, says Engelman. “The phytochemicals and folates can also help hydrate skin and keep it healthy.”
NUTS AND SEEDS
These “power foods” carry healthy, monounsaturated fats, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins A and E, minerals, and antioxidants. “Due to the nutritional density of nuts and seeds, you could promoting your skin’s elasticity, helping regenerate cells, and protecting against free radicals by eating them,” says Engelman.
How to eat them: Skip the pre-packaged granola bars and give these Energy Bites a shot. Packed with almonds and hemp seeds, they make a healthier pre- or post-workout snack.
Of course, you should drink water to support your overall health, but adding more water-dense fruit into your diet is a great (and yummy!) way to stay hydrated and help protect your skin, says Engelman. “Most fruit contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as powerful antioxidants that replenish nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm,” she explains. In other words, the opposite of acne prone.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.