Eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods is not only good for your health, it’s great for your skin. Think of it as your internal skincare regime.
Free radicals formed by oxidative damage speed up the aging process. Antioxidant-rich foods can assist with counteracting this damage caused by pollution, stress, or poor diet. High intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants have been linked to a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and skin dryness.
Here are the main antioxidants in food and their main dietary sources:
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) — fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols) — vegetable oils, nuts, mangoes, broccoli.
- Vitamin A — carrots, sweet potato, milk, eggs.
- Polyphenolic antioxidants (resveratrol, flavonoids) — tea, coffee, fruit, olive oil, chocolate, cinnamon, red wine.
- Carotenoids (lycopene, carotenes, lutein) — fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs.
The best thing about the following list of antioxidant skin foods is that they’re also delicious and can be easily incorporated into just about every meal.
1. Berry Smoothies
With berries being one of the highest antioxidant foods available, incorporating delicious berry smoothies into your diet is a good way to get the daily dose of skin food you need. Keep a box of organic frozen berries in the freezer, then just throw them into your blender with some milk or yogurt and your choice of sweetener and some protein powder. The best antioxidant berries are acai, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.
We use pomegranate in many of our skincare products for its high antioxidant and anti-aging power. This lush, seed-bearing fruit provides vitamins C and B5, potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. Pomegranate juice is particularly high in antioxidants, higher than red wine, green tea, and wild blueberries.
3. Green Tea
While green tea can contain caffeine (so you should avoid it if you want a caffeine-free diet), it is high in catechin polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants. One cup of green tea provides 10-40 mg of polyphenols and has antioxidant effects greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries. If you don't like drinking it hot try using iced green tea as the base of your smoothies or green drinks.
4. Red Delicious Apples
The old adage an apple a day rings true. While all apples are high in antioxidants, red delicious apples have been found to be the highest in a number of scientific studies. The major source of antioxidants in apples are polyphenols, which are five times more prevalent in the skin than in the flesh. That’s one good reason to buy organic apples and eat the whole apple without peeling it.
5. Red Wine
Unfortunately, you’re not going to look younger the more red wine you drink - alcohol is very dehydrating for the skin, not to mention it’s other health effects. But red wine is high in a powerful antioxidant, called resveratrol, so enjoying it in moderation (no more than one glass a day) will give your diet a good antioxidant boost.
6. Dark Chocolate
In 2003, New Scientist reported that eating dark chocolate can increase antioxidant levels, but the same does not go for milk chocolate — and drinking milk while eating the dark chocolate also cancels out the benefits. Dark chocolate is high in epicatechin, a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. In one study cited, those who ate dark chocolate had a 20% increase in blood plasma levels of antioxidants than those who ate milk chocolate or drank milk with their chocolate.
Dinner time in a world without garlic just wouldn’t be the same, would it? Just about every culinary tradition around the world makes generous use of this wonder herb. One clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B, and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Apart from its role as a strong antioxidant food, it’s also useful for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, removing heavy metals from the body, and acting as an antifungal and antiviral agent.
It’s a brilliant breakfast food mixed with chia seeds and fruit, added to your berry smoothies or eaten as a healthy dessert in place of ice-cream. It’s not an antioxidant in itself, but it complements the antioxidant glutathione in our body’s cells, giving a kickstart to the body’s antioxidant activity. It’s also high in riboflavin, an important B vitamin.
One of the most versatile cooking ingredients also happens to be one of nature’s richest sources of lycopene, one of the strongest antioxidants. Lycopene needs fat for optimum absorption, so pairing your tomatoes with olive oil will increase your lycopene levels. We suggest only eating certified organic or spray-free tomatoes, as they are renowned for being heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides.
10. Broccoli and Sweet Potato
These are two of the vegetables highest in antioxidants, which is handy since they’re both so yummy. Broccoli contains more vitamin C and calcium than oranges and milk. Sweet potato is a rich source of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Make sure you don’t overcook them and destroy the nutrients, though. Try this: lightly steam some broccoli and sweet potato together, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, pure salt (rock or lake salt) and freshly crushed or chopped garlic for a turbo-boosted antioxidant injection.
The team at Mukti Organics is a family business on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, create beautiful certified organic skin care products using some of Australia's best ingredients! They have shared a special discount code for 20% off any order for our Food Matters Community. You can check them out here and use the code 'foodmatters' at checkout.