Updated 02/08/22. It is widely recognized by almost every skin researcher, doctor, and health professional that the key to healthy aging is protecting your cells with antioxidants. Antioxidants, when applied topically and taken internally, are incredibly effective at slowing down the visible aging process. They’re effective because they prevent free radicals from oxidizing molecules (more on that in a second). You can find antioxidants in products like Vitamin C&E Treatment and Firm + Repair Overnight Serum, but you can also find antioxidants in food! Fruits and vegetables (always look for brightly colored and darkly pigmented ones) are high in antioxidants, and when consumed frequently, act as a natural, inexpensive way to slow down signs of aging.
How Antioxidants Work
Before we talk about the top antioxidant foods for the skin, we need to talk about how they work in the first place. It all comes down to something called the free radical theory of aging. This theory states that the main reason why we age is that unstable electrons, which are known as free radicals, attack healthy cells and change their composition. These free radicals are potent toxins that damage the skin by attaching to proteins and other essential molecules, rendering them unable to function as healthy cells do. This ultimately results in premature cell death.
Free radicals can come from UVA and UVB rays, pollution, stress, smoking, alcohol, fatty foods, and even repetitive aerobic exercise. When exposed to free radicals, the parts of the cell susceptible to damage are DNA, lipids, and proteins. This, then, slows down the production of collagen and elastin, which are essential in keeping the skin firm and wrinkle-free. This process happens in our skin every minute of every day, making wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging more visible over time.
This is where antioxidants come in. They give free radicals one of their electrons, which they’re able to do without becoming unstable themselves. This prevents free radicals from attaching to the molecules in healthy cells and causing damage. Antioxidants to the rescue!
The 10 Best Antioxidant Foods for Skin
These great little packages of green have something called glutathione, which is one of the body’s master antioxidants.
Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, folic acid, and carotenoids, but it’s also high in sulfur, which aids in the body’s ability to produce its own glutathione.
4. Sweet Potatoes
One of the best antioxidant foods for the skin, sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and carotenoids.
While all grapes are good for us, dark-skinned grapes are especially beneficial. They provide more than 20 kinds of antioxidants. This means that raisins and red wine are also sources of antioxidants (cheers!).
6. Citrus Fruits
Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are all loaded with vitamin C, which is our primary defense in the battle against time.
Add spinach to a salad or braise it with garlic to reap its antioxidant benefits. Specific carotenoids in spinach can even help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Carrots, and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables, contain the entire carotenoid family to give us good protection against aging.
Believe it or not, a 1/4 section of this melon supplies us with as much vitamin A and C as is needed in an entire day.
Tomatoes contain lycopene. This is an antioxidant that can help fight against certain types of cancer. It can also help with memory retention.
So, there you have it. These are the best antioxidant foods for the skin. Eat up, beauties! These foods can help promote healthy aging from the inside out.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”