Can you eat your way to better skin? If you’ve been around these parts for a while you’ve heard us say it plenty of times before –  nutrition is the foundation of healthy and beautiful skin. Well in case you didn’t believe us, we’ve found a couple interesting studies to support this claim.

Thanks to researchers at Nottingham University and the University of St. Andrews, what we’ve learned will be of benefit to anyone trying to get that perfect sun-kissed golden skin tone.

Carotenoids For Glowing Skin

Which of the three faces above do you think has the most attractive skin (or is the best looking?) The two on the left were the original, unaltered faces. The two in the middle were modified to show the effects of tanning. The two on the right show the effects that eating at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day for 6-8 weeks has on your skin. Most people chose the faces on the right as the most attractive.

And we’ll have to agree with them.

What’s The Secret?

So why do fruits and veggies give us a more attractive looking glow than the sun? The secret lies within these little substances found within called carotenoids. Carotenoids are pigments responsible for the bright red, orange, and yellow coloring found in peppers, carrots, and tomatoes among other foods.  

When we digest carotenoids, they get stored in the fat underneath the top layer of our skin which then gives it a yellowish hue.

This yellow hue (unlike the brown you get from a tan), is basically communicating to the world “Hey guys look at me, I’m healthy!”

Remember this: The healthier you become, the more attractive you become and vice versa.

We’re not genetically programmed to find tans as attractive because they don’t offer any insight into another person’s health. A tan is basically a sign of damaged skin and decreased ability to produce Vitamin D (because melanin is produced to resist UV rays which are needed to make Vitamin D). The yellow tinge that carotenoids give you let people know you’re getting plenty of antioxidants (from the fruits and veggies) meaning you likely have a stronger immune system, are less likely to die from disease, and so on. This in turn makes you more attractive (seriously).

There are many different kinds of carotenoids including lycopene found in tomatoes, and alpha and beta carotene which are found in carrots and sweet potatoes. Different foods will have different kinds of carotenoids and in varying amounts. There are actually hundreds of known types of carotenoids (about 700 to be exact) so you should be eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to reap the benefits of each type.

Replace Tanning With… Food!

So what are the implications for all you sunbathers out there? Most people think damaging their skin with UV radiation to get that sun-soaked color is a necessary tradeoff when in fact this gets you better results and no trade off is required.

Look, none of us want sickly looking pale skin but we also don’t want any of the harmful consequences that come with too much UV radiation. You know, things like premature wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots, saggy skin…. yeah, we’ll pass on those.

Eating foods high in carotenoids solves this problem. Not only does your skin get a more attractive glow than the one it gets from the sun, but it also avoids all the harmful side effects. That’s a win-win situation right there.

But before you get the wrong idea, we’re not telling you to lock yourself indoors and avoid the sun. It’s better you get some sun than no sun. What we are against is spending time and money going to tanning salons and mega-dosing your skin on UV radiation that doesn’t even get you better results than eating a few vegetables a day. Really, when did looking like an oompa loompa become the standard in attractiveness?

Below we’ve listed some of the foods with the highest concentration of carotenoids so you know exactly what to eat to get the most bang for your buck.

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Yams/Squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy Green Vegetables

Notice that not all of the foods listed above have that reddish yellow coloring we talked about before. Dark green vegetables are also chock full of carotenoids and will get you the same glow as the other foods so don’t skimp out on the greens thinking they won’t help. In fact, any fruit or vegetable with a rich, deep color means it likely contains plenty of carotenoids to give it that coloring.

By the way you have to eat them alongside fats to properly absorb them so don’t feel bad about sprinkling some olive oil over a salad or adding butter to your food. Unsaturated fats in particular really help the absorption so make your body isn’t wasting the food you’re eating.

Healthy glowing skin is a goal all of us should strive for when trying to look the best we can. Begin by revamping your diet to eat healthier foods and then simply stay consistent.

Remember, 5-7 portions of any of the foods listed above daily for about a month and a half is all it takes! We hope this encourages you to eat better and also reconsider the appeal of sun-tanned skin. In the end it’s better for us all because by eating better, we’ll look better AND be healthier.