You probably already know that genetics and sun exposure play big roles in the quality of your skin as you age. You may not know that keeping the right diet—and consuming skin-healthy superfoods—may also keep your forehead smooth years longer.
It's simple. What's good for the body is also good for warding off unwanted wrinkles: A diet high in antioxidant-packed vegetables and low in fat will help you maintain your skin health. (For a dietary plan tailored to your skin needs, seek out nutrition counseling from a licensed professional.)
One 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the diet and skin appearance of more than 4,000 American women between ages 40 and 74. Researchers found that women were less likely to have wrinkles if they consumed a lot of vitamin C.
In Australia, researchers at Monash University studied the diets of 453 individuals over the age of 70. They found an association between fewer wrinkles and a low-glycemic diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fish.
Specifically, individuals with fewer wrinkles consumed more: total fat; mono-unsaturated fat; olive oil and olives; fish, especially fatty fish; reduced fat dairy; eggs; nuts and legumes; vegetables (especially leafy greens, spinach, eggplant, asparagus, celery, onions, leeks and garlic); wholegrain cereals; fruit (especially prunes, cherries, apples and jams); tea, water and zinc.
Vitamin C. Oranges get all the press, but in fact red bell peppers have among the highest levels of vitamin C—half a cup of raw bell peppers will give you 158 percent of the recommended daily value of this cancer-fighting antioxidant. Broccoli and strawberries are also good sources.
Vitamin E. This antioxidant has been shown to prevent premature aging and reduce sunburns from UVB radiation; it also works with vitamin A to combat skin cancer. Sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E; other sources are whole grains and green leafy vegetables. If you want a sure-fire way to boost your vitamin E levels, try wheat germ oil; one tablespoon supplies 100 percent of your daily requirement.
Vitamin A. Essential for maintaining healthy skin, this vitamin is found in high concentrations in many vegetables. Half a cup of carrot juice contains more than four times the vitamin A you need in a day, while a quarter cup of cooked carrots, a quarter cup of cooked frozen spinach, or half a cup of sweet potatoes each supplies about a day's requirement. Among meat products, cow and chicken liver are packed with the antioxidant.
Essential fatty acids. Fatty acids maintain healthy cell membranes, which keeps out harmful things and allows passage of nutrients and waste products. The stronger the cell membranes, the more water retained—and the plumper your skin stays. Look to sardines, herring, salmon, walnut, and flax seed oil for these essential fatty acids.
Selenium. Selenium can protect skin cells from the oxidative damage that can cause cancer, and is commonly consumed in seafood, organ meats and muscle meats, and in many fortified foods. Brazil nuts have the highest concentrations of selenium; one kernel gives you nearly twice your daily recommended amount. Canned tuna, sunflower seeds, wheat and oat bran, shrimp and crab are also rich in selenium.