We use to think the only way to slow down the aging process on our skin was to apply products to it.
Today, we know better. The skin is our body’s largest organ, and thrives off the nutrients in our blood, much as the heart and lungs do. Unfortunately, sometimes our busy lifestyles cause us to shortchange ourselves when it comes to healthy food, and that, in turn, robs the skin of the nutrients it needs to stay young and healthy.
Whatever your schedule may be, you can make choices today that will help your skin to delay the appearance of aging in the years to come. Make your snacks work for you. Rather than increase collagen damage with a sugary treat, or spike inflammation with fast food, try these quick-and-easy snacks that pack a powerful anti-aging punch.
A Handful of Fresh Berries
Berries are full of potent antioxidants that help fight off free radical damage. They’re also rich in vitamin C, which is known to boost collagen production, reducing your risk of sagging and bagging. Plus, they’re full of water—hydration in a bite!
Studies have shown vitamin-C rich foods help delay skin aging. In 2007, for instance, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, combined with clinical examinations of the skin, and found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and dryness. (They added that a lower intake of fats and carbs also helped.)
Sun Dried Tomatoes
We’re looking for the lycopene here, which has shown in studies to help improve the appearance of skin. A powerful antioxidant, lycopene has been associated with a number of health benefits, including promoting eye health and reducing asthma symptoms.
In 2008, researchers published a study showing that subjects who consumed lycopene-rich tomato paste had 33 percent more protection against sunburn, compared to the control group. The good news was that the participants weren’t gulping down tomato paste—the servings were similar to what you would eat if you were consuming standard tomato-based meals.
Other research has also indicated that lycopene can help reduce damage to DNA in the skin, which would help battle the signs of aging. Sun dried tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, though any tomato-based source will contain this nutrient.
If you’re craving chips, pair them with an avocado dip to enjoy the skin benefits. Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which are crucial to skin’s moisture and hydration. These fats help skin retain its glowing and plump appearance even as you age. They’re also a great source of antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E.
Even more exciting, however, was research that revealed that avocado is a “superfood” when it comes to battling harmful free radicals. A 2012 study, for instance, reported that avocado oil directly combated free radicals that were destructive and unstable. These free radicals come from exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, and radiation, and are the enemies that assault our skin every day, tearing it down and leading to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This study found that the antioxidants in avocado helped cells to survive a free radical assault, and an earlier study indicated that adding avocadoes to your salad could increase absorption of other antioxidants found in the vegetables, including beta-carotene. In 2013, researchers also noted that avocado could help protect the skin from UV damage.
Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are a panacea for skin, particularly for those who have inflammatory conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
We have a lot of studies on these nutrients, and how they can benefit skin. Research has found that they help reduce the risk of UV damage by actually reducing the inflammatory reaction in skin to the sun, and by inhibiting the immune system’s tendency to create sunburn. But omega-3s do more than protect from UV rays—they have been found in a number of studies to be associated with more youthful skin.
A 2001 study, for instance, researchers examined the dietary habits and skin condition of over 400 participants. They found that higher intake of essential fatty acids was associated with less skin wrinkling. A later 2007 study found similar results, with a higher intake being associated with a lower incidence of dry skin and skin thinning.
A Handful of Grapes
Grapes are a super-easy snack to take along with you, and they’re listed here because they’re a great source of resveratrol, a powerful anti-aging antioxidant. (The nutrient is also found in wine and some other fruits, like ripe berries.)
Research has found that resveratrol can help inhibit tumor development, which means it may reduce risk of skin cancer. It’s a powerful free radical fighter, and works with vitamin E to help prevent lipids in the skin from becoming “oxidized” (damaged). When applied topically, resveratrol was found to help improve firmness and elasticity.
In a 2011 study, researchers noted that resveratrol was protective against UV radiation, oxidative stress in the skin, and skin damage, including skin cancer.
A Bite of Quality Chocolate
Could there be better news than that chocolate is anti-aging?
We even have some tests showing it to be particularly beneficial to skin. In 2015, for example, researchers reported that it could actually improve wrinkles and elasticity. Participants consumed either a placebo beverage or a cocoa beverage that contained 320 mg total cocoa flavanols. Scientists measured wrinkles, skin elasticity, and hydration at 12 and 24 weeks.
At the end of the study, those who consumed the real cocoa beverage showed improvements in elasticity—which is the “bounce back” element in skin—as well as fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Earlier studies also showed this yummy treat as having mild sun-protective properties, helping to reduce UV-induced damage. More specifically, participants were able to withstand double the amount of UVB rays before their skin started to redden.
Just be sure to choose your chocolate wisely—always look for dark varieties that have a high percentage (70 or more) of cocoa.
Yogurt, Kefir, or Kombucha
What are we looking for here? Probiotics, of course!
You’ve probably heard these nutrients are good for the gut, and help ease digestion, but they are capable of much more. As they help to stabilize the microbiome in the gut (good-to-bad bacteria balance), it turns out they may help improve the skin’s condition, as well.
In 2008, for example, researchers discovered that patients with rosacea had a ten-fold greater incidence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth—caused by an imbalance of good-to-bad bacteria—than did healthy controls. Other studies have found that patients with mild acne who consumed more probiotics experienced improvements. Researchers think this is because probiotics help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and that by balancing the bacteria in the gut, they also help ease the effects of anxiety and stress on the skin.
Recent studies have even hinted at the ability of probiotics to slow down the appearance of aging. Animal research, for example, indicated that supplementing with probiotics significantly suppressed changes in water loss, skin hydration, and skin thickening in response to UVB radiation, and also reduced skin damage.
A Finnish study indicated that pregnant women with a strong family history of eczema who took probiotic supplements had a reduced risk of having children with eczema. Some preliminary research has also suggested that probiotics may be able to encourage the formation of collagen, though we need more evidence to be sure.
What anti-aging snacks do you enjoy? Share with us below.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women1,2,3,4
Nutra Ingredients - Study Supports Lycopene Protecting Skin From Within
Express Newpapers - Avocado Hailed As New Anit-Aging Superfood
PMC - Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects
PubMed - Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference?
Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University - Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health
PubMed - Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women.
Dermatology Times - Resveratrol, the Longevity Molecule
PMC - The Grape Antioxidant Resveratrol for Skin Disorders: Promise, Prospects, and Challenges
The Journal of Nutiriton - Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial 1,2,3
Daily Mail - Sunproof Your Skin with Chocolate
Dermatology Times - Probiotics for healthy skin. A side of kefir with your kombucha?
Live Science - Probiotics Hold Promise for 4 Skin Conditions