A diet rich in vitamin C and linoleic acid and low in fats and carbs results in fewer wrinkles and less dryness

Eat your way to healthier, younger-looking skin: a diet rich in vitamin C and linoleic acid and low in fats and carbs results in fewer wrinkles and less dryness

Eating right isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for your skin too, according to a study in the October issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Over 4,000 women between the ages of 40 and 74 were studied and the results showed that women who ate more foods rich in vitamin C were less likely to have wrinkles, while higher linoleic acid intakes were associated with less dryness and skin atrophy. Conversely, an increase in fat and carbohydrates increased the likelihood of wrinkles and atrophy.

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So what are the best food choices for healthier, younger-looking skin?

“Healthy skin, like a healthy body, does not come from one or two nutrients,” says Lynn Goldstein, MS, RD, CDN, a dietitian at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Your skin is a sign of what is going on inside your body. You need to put good, healthy things inside to get the healthy look on the outside.”

Foods to eat for healthy skin

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps lower your cancer risk, boost your immune system, and protect your heart. In addition, vitamin C helps promote healthy skin. Some of the best sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, strawberries, red bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, guava, papaya, and potatoes.

According to Goldstein, “A diet complete with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins is needed to keep the skin and the rest of the body looking and feeling great.”

Although the study also found that linoleic acid is good for the skin, Goldstein cautions that you shouldn’t eat too much. “Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid–an essential fatty acid called omega-6 fatty acid. It is most commonly found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soy oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds.” However, Goldstein notes that this fat is common in the food supply and most people actually get too much because corn oil and corn products are used in a wide variety of foods. “I would not suggest increasing this fat unless your diet has been evaluated by a dietitian and found to be low (in omega-6 fatty acids).”

Foods to avoid to prevent damage

You also can eat your way to unhealthy skin. The biggest offenders are fats and carbohydrates. Foods highest in fat include fatty red meat, dark-meat poultry, full-fat dairy, butter, lard, and oils, says Goldstein. Watch out for foods that are cooked with a lot of fat, including fried foods, desserts, cream-based sauces, and fast foods. Remember that fat is necessary in the diet, but excessive fat or saturated or trans fats are not healthy. Instead, eat more healthy fat like olive oil and omega-3-rich fats found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

Many foods contain carbohydrates, and they are not all bad for your skin. According to Goldstein, “It is not enough to say ‘reduce carbohydrates for better skin’ because we do not want to reduce fruits and vegetables; we want to increase these foods. Instead, people should reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates that they eat such as white breads, pastas, and rice.”

Goldstein notes that for healthier, younger-looking skin, you also should avoid sugar-filled foods like cookies, cakes, pastries, and candy. Goldstein also recommends that you avoid excessive alcohol intake, make sure to get plenty of water, and avoid excessive sun exposure to keep your skin at its youthful best.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

* Stay hydrated. Experts recommend eight to 10 glasses of water a day to avoid dryness.

* Moisturize. Using a quality moisturizer daily can help keep your skin healthy, especially during the winter months.

* Wear sunscreen, even in the wintertime. The sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays can hurt your skin any time of year.

AVOCAdO MASQUE

1/2 ripe avocado

Mash avocado into a smooth paste with a fork and apply to your face. Leave on skin for about 10 minutes and then rinse. If desired, place a slice of cucumber over each eye for a cooling effect.

Avocado is good for softening and smoothing skin.

You also can use foods externally to achieve healthier, youngerlooking skin. Many foods, such as oatmeal, avocado and yogurt, are commonly used in skin products such as masques, moisturizers, scrubs, and cleansers. Here are two simple “recipes” for an easy, make-at-home masque and scrub.

OATMEAL HONEY SCRUB

1 Tbsp. ground oatmeal 1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

Combine all ingredients. Gently rub on your

face in a circular motion, avoiding the eye

area. Rinse and pat face dry.

This scrub exfoliates and moisturizes,

leaving skin feeling smooth and hydrated.

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