Foods heavy in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, herring, and trout play a key role in keeping our skin smooth, says Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, nutritionist and author of The Beauty Diet: Looking Great Has Never Been So Delicious (McGraw-Hill, 2008). They provide our skin with oils that lubricate and reduce inflammation, which often leads to redness, acne, and scaly skin.
Keep your skin silky smooth by including sweet potatoes in your diet. They are rich in beta-carotene and, when ingested, are converted into vitamin A, a prime factor in keeping skin touchably soft, Drayer says. Not a potato person? Carrots will do the trick, too.
Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Mangoes
These juicy melons are heavy in carotenoids, which help protect your skin from sunburn. Don't let fruit be your only protection though.
Any food with lots of vitamin C, like kiwi, oranges, and grapefruit, is a big skin saver, according to Drayer. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and protects against wrinkles. In a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who had a diet high in vitamin C foods had noticeably less dryness and fewer wrinkles.
This has to be too good to be true, right? Wrong! Drayer says enjoying a small piece of dark chocolate will provide high levels of cocoa flavanols, which have been associated with softer, more hydrated skin. Notice we said small. Eating a jumbo Hershey's bar probably won't make you look or feel very good after the fact.
Milk does a body good, but what it does for your teeth is a whole lot better! Since it's an excellent source of calcium, Drayer says it helps support your jawbone, keeps your teeth cavity-free, and promotes the reformation of enamel. Bottoms up!
Broccoli has been proven to keep your gums healthy, along with other vitamin C-packed foods like citrus and peppers. So that's why Mom wouldn't let us leave the table until we finished our vegetables.
Yogurt makes your skin and nails glow, according to Paula Simpson, international nutritionist and beauty expert. It's a good source of protein and has been found in clinical studies to help stimulate fat metabolism and whittle your waistline. An added bonus: Drayer says thanks to the biotin found in yogurt, it helps increase nail strength.
Flaky scalps are often due to low levels of zinc. "Oysters are the best food source of zinc, keeping your hair and scalp healthy," Drayer says. If oysters aren't your thing, try dark-meat chicken, turkey, crab, dairy, or beans as an alternate source of zinc.
The compound that makes peppers hot will boost your heart rate and speed your metabolism by 23 percent for an hour and a half after eating a meal with it, Simpson says. Peppers also contain vitamin C, which helps to protect your skin from damage.
Nuts and Seeds
Snack on some almonds or sunflower seeds this summer, says Robyn Flipse, MS, RD. They contain anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing nutrients, including vitamin E, that help reduce skin flare-ups.