By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
Showing a little more skin now that the weather has warmed up? In addition to sunscreen and moisturizers there’s another equally important way to care for your skin—from the inside. Just as there are nutrients particularly critical for the eyes, brain and heart, certain vitamins and phytonutrients are key to radiant, clear skin. By happy coincidence, many of those nutrients are in abundance in spring and summer produce. So, make sure to toss the following in your cart:
Cantaloupe and strawberries. They’re rich in vitamin C, which nourishes skin in two ways. As an antioxidant, this vitamin helps destroy skin-damaging free radicals caused by UV light. Plus, vitamin C is needed to form the protein collagen, which firms up skin and gives it elasticity.
Tomatoes. Also rich in vitamin C, tomatoes contain another powerful antioxidant, lycopene. Lycopene, like beta-carotene, is a carotenoid. Studies show that people with the highest levels of carotenoids in their blood have fewer wrinkles.
Corn, yellow zucchini, broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach. This diverse group has two things in common: the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. A study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that consuming more of these nutrients results in a stronger antioxidant defense in the skin.
Salmon, sardines, and trout. While you can get these fish year-round, extra-delicious wild-caught Alaskan Chinook (King) peaks between May and late July, and Alaskan Coho salmon are most plentiful late June through mid-September. These three fish are all very rich in omega-3 fats, which are critical for maintaining the outer layer of the skin. Plus, their anti-inflammatory powers help quell damaging inflammation caused by UV damage, and may even help prevent or treat acne, according to a few studies. That may be why recent New York University research found that acne-free young men and women eat three times more fish than those with mild or severe acne.
Almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, peanuts, olive oil. These year-round staples are rich in vitamin E, which has antioxidant powers and also helps create a secure skin barrier, making it more difficult for bacteria to seep in.