Study: Plant-Based Foods Are Good for Skin Health

September 4, 2022

A plant-based diet has been linked to numerous advantages, including a reduced risk of heart disease and some malignancies. But did you know that a plant-based diet, which includes fruits and vegetables, can also improve the appearance of your skin?

"Epidemiological studies have shown that people who generally consume a higher amount of fruits and vegetables tend to have better skin outcomes than those who consume less," says Vivien W. Fam, PhD, RDN, a clinical research scientist in Sacramento, California.

Dr. Fam is one of the authors of a recent narrative review study on nutrition and skin health that was just published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

About the Study

Dr. Fam and his research team analyzed 20 earlier studies on skin health and the effects of plant-based diets, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, soybeans, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Foods made from plants are rich in bioactive substances such polyphenols, phenolic acids, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, which function as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and support the structural integrity of the skin. A narrative assessment of the results, which included all of the outcomes, produced some interesting results. Nuts contain essential fatty acids, which are necessary for the health of the skin, according to studies.

"I don’t think there is 'one' magic food to do the trick, but a whole foods diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats can help over time," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim," and a nutritionist in private practice.

In their narrative evaluation, the researchers placed particular emphasis on the meals that were supported by the most clinical studies. In their whole, juiced, and extract forms, they looked at the components of fruits and vegetables that support the skin.

"Some of the beneficial compounds in fruits and vegetables include vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, carotenoids, and a variety of polyphenols," says Dr. Fam. These nutrients promote oxidant defense, structural integrity, and reduce skin inflammation.

Which Foods Are Good for Skin?

Mangoes and other high-vitamin C diets have been associated to fewer wrinkles. Young claims that vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your skin from the oxidation caused by external causes like pollution and sunlight. According to the narrative review, additional fruits and vegetables that are good for the skin include tomatoes, kale, melon, oranges, pomegranates, and grapes. All of them, according to Dr. Fam, are high in vitamins and polyphenols, but because each item has different amounts and types of these substances, it is possible that they have different therapeutic benefits."Foods strong in vitamin C include an assortment of colorful produce like broccoli, citrus, red peppers, and kiwi."

It is therefore advised to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to reap the benefits of a diversity of nutrients and polyphenols. Particularly almonds are great for the skin.

"Clinical studies have shown that frequent intake of almonds meets 20% of one’s total caloric needs, which equates to an average of about 2 ounces, reduced facial wrinkles, and pigmentation," says Dr. Fam.

Research on soy's benefits for healthy skin is also available. Isoflavones found in soybeans are structurally related to estrogen, a hormone that declines after menopause and may be responsible for dryness and wrinkles on the skin. However, research suggests that consuming soy drinks and soy extract (equal to 15 to 25 grams of soy protein daily) may help increase skin moisture.

Polyphenols in Coffee, Tea and Cocoa

The researchers also looked at research on components used in beverages, such as coffee, chocolate, and tea, all of which are rich in polyphenol antioxidants. They discovered that all three of these drinks can be good for your skin.Research on coffee revealed that it reduced skin hyperpigmentation and enhanced dryness and scaly skin. According to Dr. Fam, 270 to 300 mg of coffee polyphenols appear to be good for skin in trials that employed decaffeinated beverages that contained coffee polyphenols. "That might be equivalent to two or three cups of coffee."

Tea extracts, including 450 milligrams to 540 milligrams of tea flavanols, were used in the studies on tea. According to Dr. Fam, obtaining this level of flavanols from brewed tea may require as much as 10 cups of green tea, depending on the quality and processing of the tea leaves. At that point, tea might improve hydration and suppleness while reducing roughness and scaling. Fam also points out that none of the experiments' beverages contained sugar. She notes that while the sugar may not affect the amount of polyphenols present in the beverages, it does increase the intake of simple sugars in a person's diet.

Foods vs. Supplements for Skin Health?

Studies in the narrative review occasionally focused on supplements or extracts rather than entire foods. Dr. Fam explains that since entire foods are perishable and difficult to deal with, extracts and supplements are utilized in research more frequently than they are. What then should you decide for the wellness of your own skin?

"The question the readers should be asking is 'what works for me and my lifestyle?'" says Dr. Fam. "Some may be seeking whole foods, while others look to enhance their diet with supplements and extracts, or a combination of both along with a skin care regimen that works best for their skin."

Your final decision will depend on what suits your skin the best.

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