From high-end serums and peels to moisturizers, it feels like there are endless products out there to achieve younger-looking skin. But here’s a bombshell that just might save you some serious money on skincare: what you eat can have a major impact on how your complexion looks. Aging is inevitable, but research has shown that many of the vitamins, minerals, and other substances in your foods may help to slow down the process a bit. And why not start your day by giving your skin a boost? There are a number of breakfast foods that make you look young, all packed with those skin-enhancing nutrients.
“Aging is a natural process and nothing to be ashamed about,” says Colleen Christensen, RD. “However, there are certain foods that can help us take care of the skin we have to the best of our ability.”
There are several biological reasons why your skin’s appearance changes as you get older. For one, your body produces 1% less collagen every year after you turn 20—and collagen plays a significant role in keeping your skin from sagging. By your 40s, your skin is not producing any more collagen, and as it loses elasticity, wrinkles and fine lines begin to form more rapidly. Meanwhile, exposure to UV rays and free radicals in the environment can cause even more damage to the skin.
Obviously, wearing sunscreen at all times, avoiding smoking, and limiting your time in the sun are all measures you can take to shield your skin from damage. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may also help ward off premature aging, whereas a diet that’s heavy in sugar and refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging.
With that in mind, here are a handful of anti-aging foods you should definitely add to your breakfast plate—and be sure to check out the 25 Healthy Foods That Fight Aging, According to Dermatologists.
It’s time to fire up that blender first thing in the morning—because according to Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, fruit smoothies are packed with antioxidants that can ward off damage to the skin from free radicals.
“Smoothies are also an excellent way to stay hydrated which will have skin-enhancing benefits in itself,” Jaramillo says. “Add hemp seeds, avocado or peanut butter to smoothies for an added kick of omega fatty acids and Vitamin E to promote skin health and reduce inflammation.”
Make one yourself by choosing from our list of 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.
Good news if you love to eat avocado toast for breakfast: Jaramillo says that creamy green fruit is a phenomenal source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which studies have shown can help protect the skin from premature aging.
Plus, did you know avocados are The One Food To Eat To Feel Full, According to a Dietitian?
Speaking of omega-3s, chia seeds are chock full of them. That’s one reason why Jaramillo recommends making a chia seed pudding for breakfast. She notes that omega-3 fatty acids not only help to reduce inflammation, but also help the skin to maintain moisture—which is crucial for keeping it looking plump and youthful.
One 2012 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University revealed that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids can help white blood cells to preserve tiny segments of DNA called telomeres, which are known to shorten over time as a consequence of aging. Omega-3 supplementation was also found to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
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Whether you prefer them scrambled, fried, or hard-boiled, experts agree that eggs are an excellent choice for breakfast when it comes to nourishing your skin. According to Christensen, this is because eggs contain both protein and vitamin D.
“Vitamin D can protect skin against UVB damage,” she says. “As we age, our body’s ability to produce vitamin D declines, so consuming it through foods is important. Protein is also important and those who consume diets low in protein have been shown to have more prominent appearance of wrinkles.”
For anti-aging bonus points, Jaramillo suggests making an omelet with veggies like spinach, kale, or bell pepper to get a dose of vitamin C to help brighten the skin’s appearance.
“These choices also contain Vitamin E and K which will help promote blood flow, can reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin, and moisturize the skin,” she adds.
If you’re a vegan, swap the egg scramble for a tasty tofu one. Tofu contains protein, which is one of the building blocks of skin cells, as well as soy isoflavones, which have been found to significantly reduce wrinkles and improved skin elasticity.
“Tofu is a good source of zinc, which helps to prevent free radical damage in the body and aids in cell repair,” says Jaramillo. “This can be beneficial for your skin in addition to every cell in the body. Add veggies and some avocado to the mix and you’ve also got great sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients to protect the skin.”
Give our 10-Minute Mediterranean Tofu Scramble Recipe a try!
“When the skin is exposed to light the skin’s lycopene can be destroyed,” says Christensen. “Foods like tomatoes contain lycopene, which may mitigate damage. Try adding salsa on top of your eggs or add slices to avocado toast.”
Studies have shown that lycopene, the phytochemical that makes this vegetable red, has an anti-inflammatory effect and decreases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation. Tomatoes are also rich in B vitamins, which have anti-aging properties and may reduce sun damage, age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles while also contributing to cell repair.
In fact, research has revealed that polyphenols can essentially act as a sunscreen, helping to defend your skin cells against damage from the UV rays—the kind that leads to wrinkles.
You might want to swap those traditional hashbrowns or home fries for sweet potatoes—Christensen says they contain carotenoids, powerful antioxidants derived from vitamin A that have photoprotective qualities, meaning they’ll protect your skin from damage. They’re also packed with vitamin C, which plays a major part in skin regeneration. Studies have shown that women over the age of 40 who had a lower intake of this vitamin were more likely to have wrinkles.
“A correlation has been observed between low vitamin C intake and having dry skin, which can lead to increased wrinkling,” explains Christensen. “Vitamin C deficiency can also impact collagen synthesis, which is important for skin elasticity.”
Yes, eat sweet potatoes for breakfast with our Breakfast Loaded Sweet Potato!