If this is your pet peeve, we have some solutions for you. These five hard-hitters actually have some scientific evidence behind their ability to help you look younger.
A fast-growing aquatic plant, watercress is a member of the mustard family, with leaves and stems that have a peppery flavor. They’re great for spicing up soups, salads, and casseroles, and make a more flavorable addition to sandwiches than plain lettuce.
Watercress is also considered a superfood because of its high nutritional content. A 2007 study found that eating it daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. It also helped to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood by an average of 10 percent.
Even more amazing: a 2012 study showed that ten out of 11 women experienced visible improvements to their skin, and seven out of 11 saw an improvement in their wrinkles, when they added one bag of watercress (80 grams) a day to their diets. One woman reduced her facial wrinkles by 39 percent. Results were shown not just by personal evaluation, but through a complexion analysis photography.
One condition—the watercress was raw, not cooked. Participants used it in salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and pasta. Watercress is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
The sun is the number-one source of skin damage, and the most common cause of wrinkles and fine lines. So finding foods that naturally protect your skin from the sun can help you delay some of that damage.
A study by researchers from Manchester and Newcastle universities found that people who ate tomato paste were better protected against sunburn and skin aging caused by sunlight exposure. The key ingredient is lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red and provides antioxidant protection. The highest levels of lycopene are found in cooked tomatoes.
In the study, women ate five tablespoons of standard tomato paste with 10 grams of olive oil every day for 12 weeks. (A control group did not.) Those who ate the tomato paste had 33 percent more protection against sunburn and skin redness, as well as less damage to DNA in the skin (which usually leads to the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging).
Skin samples taken before and after the study also showed an increase in levels of “procollagen”—which is the molecule that helps keep skin firm and taut.
They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have all sorts of benefits for the skin, including anti-aging. (You can also insert salmon, flaxseed, and other sources of omega-3s here.)
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, omega-3s are essential nutrients for the skin, reducing inflammation and protecting from sun damage. They quote studies that indicate omega-3 supplements provided an added level of protection from sun damage. Cross-sectional studies have also shown higher dietary intakes of essential fatty acids to be associated with a more youthful appearance in the skin.
A 2001 study in women over 70 years of age, for example, showed that a higher intake of olive oil, vegetables, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and legumes, along with lower intakes of milk, butter, margarine, and sugar was associated with less skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed place on the skin.
These tasty little fruits help preserve the collagen in your skin. More collagen means a tighter, more youthful appearance that’s better able to resist fine lines and wrinkles. A 2013 animal study, for example, found that because of their high content of anthocyanins, blueberries contributed to the health of the collagen matrix.
A 2009 study also found the blueberries protect your skin from sun damage.
5. Dark Chocolate
Full of good-for-you antioxidants, real cocoa powder (or dark chocolate) helps reduce roughness in skin and protect against sun damage. A 2006 study, for example, found that women who consumed cocoa powder with a high amount of flavonoids dissolved in 100 mL of water for 12 weeks, experienced 25 percent reduced redness and burning when exposed to UV rays. Researchers also found that participants had improved skin texture, increased skin density and increased skin hydration—which could also help prevent wrinkles, since wrinkles are more likely in dry skin.
The amounts of flavonols in the drink the women consumed was similar to those found in 100 grams of dark chocolate.
A later 2009 study found similar results, with those consuming dark chocolate rich in flavonols showing more resistance to sun damage.
Do you have other foods that help your skin? Please share with our readers.
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“Watercress: Anti-Cancer Superfood,” Medical News Today, February 18, 2007, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/63314.php.
Bianca London, “Eat your way to a facelift: Watercress is the latest wonder food in battle against ageing,” Mail Online, October 12, 2012, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2216852/Eat-way-facelift-Watercress-latest-wonder-food-battle-anti-ageing.html.
Jenny Hope, “Tomatoes help keep skin young and protect against sunburn,” Daily Mail, June 6, 2012, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2155595/Tomatoes-help-skin-young-protect-sunburn.html.
“Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health,” Linus Pauling Institute, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/skin/EFA/.
Purba MB, Kouris-Blazos A, Wattanapenpaiboon N, et al. Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference? J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20:71-80. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11293471.
Zhang J, et al., “Blueberry consumption prevents loss of collagen in bone matrix and inhibits senescence pathways in osteoblastic cells,” Age, June 2013; 35(3):807-20, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555620.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Antioxidant Found In Berries, Other Foods Prevents UV Skin Damage That Leads To Wrinkles.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009. .
Ulrike Heinrich, et al., “Long-Term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cocoa Provides Photoprotection against UV-Induced Erythema and Improves Skin Condition in Women,” J. Nutr. June 2006; 136(6):1565-1569, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/6/1565.full.
Stefanie Williams, et al., “Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light,” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2009; 8(3):169-173, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1473-2165.2009.00448.x/abstract.