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  • Rajani Katta MD

For radiant skin, eat fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

As we age, our skin changes.

That's a simple, basic concept. The details of how our skin changes, on the other hand, are far more complex.

Researchers have studied aging skin in detail, and have identified a number of specific features of our skin that change with age. Age and sun exposure play a large role in the development of these signs of aging skin.

The foods we eat also play a role.

Certain foods help prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, while other foods may help prevent deeper wrinkles and sagging skin. And other foods may help prevent age-related dry skin.

And then there's another feature of youthful skin: radiance.

Youthful skin is radiant, glowing skin. And studies have shown that even when it comes to promoting radiant skin, foods may help. Specifically, foods that are rich in carotenoids.

For radiant skin, consume more red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and red peppers

Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red nutrients that are found in many fruits and vegetables. And researchers have found that consuming more of them, even just for 6 weeks, can improve your skin’s appearance.

In one study, researchers found that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption over 6 weeks led to skin-color changes that were seen as healthy and attractive. Some of this may have been due to the pigments in the vegetables themselves [such as the red lycopene in red peppers]. Researchers also speculate that polyphenols, another class of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, may have acted to open up arteries and thereby increased blood flow to the face.

There are a number of different types of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is one, and good sources of this nutrient include sweet potatoes, carrots, and red peppers. Lycopene is another well-known carotenoid, and is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit.

These nutrients are skin powerhouses in other respects, also. Beta-carotene and lycopene function as powerful antioxidants, which means they help to limit the effects of sun damage on our skin.

These nutrients also pack powerful health benefits overall. Studies have found that consuming more of these nutrients via fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

One important point: these health benefits have NOT been seen with supplements. That means a pill or tablet won't cut it. Instead, you'll need to incorporate more of these foods into your diet, whether that's with a pre-dinner snack of carrot sticks, an extra serving of spaghetti sauce, or another favorite recipe.

*If you'd like future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.

Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.

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