The research is clear, your skin loves antioxidants, and they provide major benefits for the look and feel of healthy skin. Not only do they help protect your skin from environmental toxins and sun damage, but they can actually improve the hydration and elasticity of your skin–giving you that healthy glow all year long.
Antioxidants fight free radicals that cause oxidative damage as a result of sun exposure and other harmful factors, which is linked with signs of aging like dry skin, wrinkles, and fine lines (1).
Below are the antioxidants your skin needs, plus 5 antioxidant foods for glowing skin all summer long.
Which antioxidants are best for skin?
There’s a lot of information out there about the benefits of antioxidants for your skin, and which ones are best. In truth, there are dozens of incredibly effective antioxidants in the form of vitamins, phytonutrients, and other compounds, but there are a few that really stand out for giving your skin that healthy look and feel.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s a super power for skin. It can help with the effects of accelerated skin aging like dryness, fine lines, and dark spots (2). Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, which promotes skin elasticity and gives it a healthy, supple feel (3).
Vitamin A plays a role in the production and function of fresh, new skin cells, which not only keeps your skin healthy but looking its best. It contains retinoids, which are known for benefits such as minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles due to its role in collagen production. They also fight signs of UV damage like dark spots or hyperpigmentation.
In one study, participants with higher vitamin A concentrations in their skin tended to look younger, while those with lower vitamin A concentrations tended to look older (4).
Your skin loves polyphenols for their anti-aging and antioxidant potential. They help decrease the metabolic signs of aging, as well as fight free radicals that cause oxidative damage in skin cells (5).
You’ve probably heard of some common polyphenols, like resveratrol in red wine, theobromine from chocolate, and lycopene from tomatoes. There are literally thousands of polyphenols that scientists have identified so far, and they’re found in foods like chocolate, tea, red wine, fruits, spices, and other plants.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein is a type of polyphenol, referred to as a carotenoid, but it’s worthy of its own special call-out for healthy skin. And here’s why: Incredibly, lutein and zeaxanthin filter high-energy wavelengths (like UV radiation from the sun), and protect your skin against oxidative damage that’s a major factor for signs of skin aging, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles (6).
Lutein and zeaxanthin also improve skin tone, as well as overall skin lightness, by lessening cellular damage within skin cells (7). You can find lutein and zeaxanthin often together in foods like spinach, asparagus, kale, peas, and egg yolks.
Now, let’s find out how you can make these antioxidants part of your protective, hydrating, glow-inducing diet all year long.
Antioxidant Foods for Glowing Skin
You’ll love these snacks that are easy to whip up, taste great, and pack a super antioxidant punch to support your skin so you can enjoy time in the sun without worry. Just don’t forget your SPF!
Cold Brew Matcha
Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves carefully grown in the shade for optimal flavor and quality. It’s is the highest dietary source of an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to increase the level of collagen and elastin fibers present in the skin. This helps your skin stay healthy and younger looking.
Green tea leaves have also been described as having photoprotective, stress resistance, and neuroprotective properties (8).
To make a simple, creamy cold brew matcha tea, you only need 3 ingredients:
- Matcha powder
- Optional: a splash of oat milk, honey, stevia, or coconut milk.
Start by filling a 6-8 oz glass with ice cubes. Then, add water to the glass until it’s about ¾ full. In a cocktail shaker (other other wide-mouthed shaker container) add about a ¼ cup of water and about a teaspoon of matcha powder. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds, and pour your matcha mixture over your glass of ice water. Swirl with a spoon to combine, and sip away!
Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites
Blueberries contain higher amounts powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins. Not only is this compound responsible for their dark blue pigment, but it also helps fight inflammation and slow the breakdown of collagen in your skin caused by sun exposure (9).
Blueberries are also a great source of vitamin C and fiber, two more important factors to reducing inflammation that can wreak havoc on your skin.
To make blueberry yogurt bites you’ll need:
- 1 package blueberries, about 2 cups, rinsed and patted dry
- Vanilla yogurt of choice (Greek yogurt contains more protein per serving and is a great choice)
To start, lay a piece of parchment on a large cookie sheet. With a toothpick, dip each blueberry into the yogurt, then transfer to the parchment paper. Repeat until all the blueberries are dipped, then place in the freezer for about an hour. When frozen, pop the blueberries off the parchment and store in a freezer-safe container until you’re ready to eat them.
Refreshing Mint Chip Green Smoothie
What’s the best way to pack a ton of nutrient-dense greens into your day before lunchtime? Whipping up a refreshing green smoothie! This is the easiest way to get vitamin C, lutein, vitamins, AND minerals all in one easy step.
This green smoothie contains the most amount of lutein to help reduce inflammation and UV damage caused by the sun, plus vitamin C and fiber to help cleanse the gut. I also like to add a scoop of collagen to provide more skin healthy benefits.
- ¼ cup canned coconut milk
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt (can also substitute a dairy free version)
- 1 medium avocado
- 2 cups spinach (or a mixture of other greens on hand)
- 1 serving collagen (about 20 grams)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp peppermint extract (brands vary in intensity, adjust to preference!)
- 1 Tbsp chopped 85% dark chocolate, or stevia sweetened chocolate chips
- Water or ice cubes for consistency
Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth. Add additional ice cubes or water (1 tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is reached.
Dark chocolate with walnuts and pumpkin seeds
Have a sweet tooth and still want to provide your skin with the nutrients it needs? Look no further than dark chocolate! Dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao or more provides antioxidants like theobromine, phenols, and procyanidins (10). When you pair that with walnuts and pumpkin seeds, you get a healthy dose of beneficial fats, as well as zinc and magnesium.
I like to make this as a trail mix with chunks of dark chocolate, or you can melt your chocolate and drizzle it over a cluster of nuts for a delicious dessert or snack.
Canned Tuna, Sardines, and Oysters
While not the most glamorous or exotic skin-healthy snack around, doctors and researchers alike say don’t dismiss fish in the can just yet.
Canned seafood like sardines and oysters are great sources of zinc, B12, and selenium. B12 and zinc play a major role in skin cell reproduction, and if you’re not getting enough, you may notice signs of accelerated aging such as dry skin, wrinkles, or fine lines.
Selenium is necessary for your body to produce glutathione–your body’s most powerful antioxidant (11). Plus, sardines, oysters, and tuna contain omega 3s, vitamin D, and other minerals your skin just loves.
Want Great Skin? Address These First
Incorporating more antioxidants into your diet is a great way to improve the look and feel of your skin naturally, but there are a few other factors you’ll want to address when skin health is your concern. First,
- Decrease or omit added sugars
- Avoid dairy (at least initially)
- Address food sensitivities or intolerances
- Correct hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroid or estrogen dominance
Then, the look and feel of healthy skin is heavily influenced by your gut. Inflammation produced in the gut is linked to issues like irritation, eczema, breakouts, and dry skin. Which is why if you’re experiencing skin issues of any kind, it’s crucial to heal your gut first.
Great, glowing skin is closer than you think. Get started on your own Belly Fix journey today.
Healthy Skin Starts with You
Healthy skin is reflects not only beauty, but important barrier protection from environmental toxins, pollution, and other intruders. It’s your body’s first line of defense so it’s important to take care of it on a cellular level with antioxidants and plenty of nutrient-dense foods.
Eating more foods for healthy skin like leafy greens, quality proteins, nuts & seeds, and omega 3 fats boosts the health of your skin, and provides the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your skin needs to look and feel great.
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