Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all skip the Instagram filters and have glowing Valencia skin IRL?
By Marissa Miller and Sara Gaynes
It turns out a beauty junkie’s best friend is, in fact, the farmer’s market. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients can have some pretty surprising, glow-up-worthy effects on your complexion that, when paired with sun protection and a regular skin-care routine, can go a long way toward giving your skin that I-just-had-multiple-orgasms glow.
Start eating these nine foods to get that #nofilter look 24/7:
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes make for an amazing cocktail. But they’re also the ticket to Perfect Skin City.
Vitamin C helps your skin produce skin-smoothing collagen, says Mirela Mitan, Ph.D., CEO and founder of MMXV INFINITUDE skin care. “Intake of this vitamin is a key element to improving skin’s overall texture,” she says.
Plus, vitamin C is an antioxidant that can protect against sun damage, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation, she says. So, you should eat it AND slather it on your face in a serum.
Their deep purple (not blue, actually!) pigmentation hints at their high antioxidant content—specifically, cancer-fighting anthocyanins and inflammation-fighting bioflavinoids. Mitan says eating blueberries can help rid the skin of toxins (like free radicals) from the inside out.
When it’s hot, green tea releases catechins, a type of antioxidant with proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that may help increase blood flow to the skin, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table. (The tea’s antioxidants start to degrade as it cools, so drink it while it’s hot.)
And those benefits are very real: A 2007 study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that drinking two to six cups a day can help prevent skin cancer (although don’t use that as an excuse to skimp on wearing sunscreen).
The omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower oil serve as ultra-rich moisturizers. And safflower oil is a natural emollient, meaning it provides a barrier to keep moisture in and can help heal skin—great news if you have dry skin. A 2018 study found that it has some anti-inflammatory effects, too.
Celebs and influencers who swap their morning coffee for bone broth might be onto something, since it’s super rich in collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, found in the skin, bones, muscles, and tendons.
And while the collagen you eat doesn’t turn into straight collagen in your skin, a small study from the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that consuming collagen can actually boost skin elasticity and hydration—helping skin look healthier and more supple.
You could probably build a fortress against the Big C with these leaves. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that eating spinach and other green leafy veggies is associated with a decreased risk in squamous cell carcinoma (the second most common form of skin cancer).
According to Mitan, spinach’s vitamin E and beta-carotene content protects skin cells from free radical damage (which can cause skin cancer and signs of aging like hyperpigmentation and fine lines). Plus, the water in greens penetrates cell membranes—which makes for plumper and less wrinkled skin.
Like oranges, sweet potatoes are also loaded with vitamin C, which smoothes out wrinkles. In fact, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that volunteers who consumed about four milligrams of C (that’s about half a small sweet tater) daily for three years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent. Their high beta-carotene content is essential for that youthful glow, says Taub-Dix.
Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. Your body gains the most sun-shielding nutrients when the vegetable is heated (now’s a great time to have pizza or pasta with marinara sauce, says Taub-Dix).
Just a half-cup of cooked tomatoes or pasta sauce has 16 milligrams of lycopene; along with ample sunscreen, that daily dose should help keep you out of the red.
Your favorite sandwich melt has a little secret: selenium. This nutrient helps preserve elastin, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and tight. The antioxidant is also believed to buffer against the sun (it stops free radicals created by UV exposure from damaging cells).
Taub-Dix adds that tuna’s high omega-3 fatty acid content helps preserve collagen, fight inflammation, and keep skin firm. Three ounces, or half a can per day, can help.