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Edible Wrinkle Protection

Start planning your diet with a guide to the best foods, vitamins and nutrients for your skin.

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Can the right foods discourage wrinkles? Can the wrong foods make your skin wrinkle sooner and deeper? When researchers from Australia’s Monash University looked at the diets of 453 women and men from Australia, Greece, and Sweden for clues, the answer to both questions was a clear yes.

They discovered that a high intake of fruit, vegetables, and fish could reduce skin wrinkling-even among smokers and people who spent more time in the sun. But eating lots of red meat and sweets seemed to accelerate skin aging. The researchers note that their work doesn’t mean that food itself makes skin wrinkle or stay smooth; it’s more likely that the right diet helps protect against the effects of the sun and natural aging, while the wrong diet aids and abets these skin wreckers.

Two types of foods seemed especially protective: high-antioxidant fruits and veggies and monounsaturated fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. A diet high in antioxidants may prevent wrinkling by helping skin cells cope with sunlight-generated free radicals. Meanwhile, your skin’s structure includes fatty acids. Replenishing them by providing your body with monounsaturated fats keeps skin healthy and glowing; monos may also act as antioxidants, the researchers say. Reach for these skin savers.

The study volunteers with the fewest wrinkles ate the most of these foods: olive oil and olives, fish (especially fatty fish such as sardines), reduced-fat milk and milk products such as yogurt, eggs, nuts and beans, vegetables (especially leafy greens, such as spinach, eggplant, asparagus, celery, onions, leeks, and garlic), whole grain cereals, fruit (especially prunes, cherries, apples, and jams), tea, and water.

Steer clear of wrinkle promoters. More wrinkling was associated with eating more of these: saturated fat in red meat, processed meats, butter, and full-fat milk, cheese, and ice cream; sweetened drinks; cakes, pastries, and desserts; and white potatoes.

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Skin-Healthy Nutrients

Here’s the lowdown on the top skin-friendly nutrients that belong on your plate at every meal.

Vitamin A
Top sources: liver and dark green, yellow, or orange vegetables, such as spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, apricots, yellow squash, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin A helps maintain the structural integrity of skin cells. A deficiency disturbs the delicate balance of the skin, resulting in the loss of cells that produce lubricants intended to keep skin soft and supple.

You can get all the vitamin A you need from food and a daily multivitamin. A single serving of spinach supplies all you need in a day. The vitamin A in your food comes in two forms: retinol, from meat and dairy products, and carotenes (mostly beta-carotene) from fruit and veggies. The deeper the color, the more beta-carotene’s inside.

Vitamin C
Top sources: citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, green veggies, red peppers, and eggplant.

This important antioxidant helps maintain healthy tissues and fights wrinkles by neutralizing damaging free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that are thought to accelerate aging by causing cell and tissue damage. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the formation of collagen, the scaffold-like structure of fibers that supports your skin.

Vitamin E
Top sources: vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, egg yolks, wheat germ, and leafy green vegetables.

Another antioxidant, vitamin E also protects and maintains the structural integrity of cell membranes. You’ll get all you need from a healthy diet.

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More Skin-Healthy Nutrients

Zinc
Top sources: red meat, whole wheat, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and oysters.

This key mineral works with vitamin C to make healthy collagen, an essential component of connective tissue.

Essential fatty acids
Top sources: salmon, trout, tuna, and other fatty, cold-water fish; walnuts; and ground flaxseed.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help hydrate the skin by holding on to moisture.

Water
Top sources: beyond tapwater and bottled water, 100 per cent juice and green, black, or herbal teas.

Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. This helps flush toxins through your kidneys instead of your skin.

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Sun Blockers on Your Plate

New research suggests that some foods have the power to protect skin from the damage caused by the sun’s UV radiation. While a salad is no substitute for a sunblock, adding these sunscreen stars to breakfast, lunch, and dinner could add inner protection at the cellular level.

Red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables.
They’re packed with carotenoids, and studies show they reduce sunburn intensity.

Tart cherries and peppermint leaves
These flavorful treats contain perillyl alcohol, which may halt cancer formation. In lab studies, this ingredient stopped cancer in cells exposed to UV light.

Dark green lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard
Leafy greens are top sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which halted cell growth prompted by UV light in animal studies.

Green tea 
This delicately flavored tea is full of antioxidants called EGCGs. Among their health-promoting capabilities: EGCGs stopped geneticdamage in human skin cells exposed to UV light in one University of Wisconsin study.

Oranges, lemons, and limes 
Citrus fruits have the potent ingredient limonene, associated with a whopping 34 percent lower risk of skin cancer in one University of Arizona study of 470 women and men.

Salmon 
This fish is a great source of oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In a small British study, fish oils guarded against sunburn and DNA changes that can lead to cancer.

Supplements for Younger-Looking Skin
While a growing stack of research shows that vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are more effective when consumed from food than when taken in a pill, consider these supplements. They can’t replace a diet packed with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and lean protein, but they’re good “insurance policies” for days when you don’t eat all the right stuff.

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Vitamins

A multivitamin 
Provides the full range of vitamins and minerals your skin needs for basic good health, plus small amounts of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E.

Selenium 
This mineral may protect against prostate cancer, and at doses of 50 to 200 micrograms per day, it may also protect against cell-damaging free radicals.

Vitamin C 
You’ll get all you need if you eat plenty of fruit and veggies each day. But everybody messes up, so increase your intake of this skin-guarding antioxidant with a supplement that provides 500 to 1,000 milligrams a day.

Vitamin E 
This antioxidant protects cell membranes by inactivating free radicals. Applied directly to the skin, it may reduce skin damage. Some dermatologists suggest taking small amounts to reduce sun damage and improve skin texture, but recent research suggests that taking large doses of supplemental E could be hazardous. We recommend sticking with the amount in your multivitamin or adding a supplement of no more than 200 IU per day.

Research confirms it: Your choice of foods has a major influence on the health and beauty of your skin.

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