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13 foods that can help improve your skin naturally

Keep your skin healthy from the inside out with these nutrient-rich foods that serve up lots of healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

When it comes to healthy skin, you might think first about lotions and serums you put on it. But nutritious foods are just as important for keeping your skin healthy from the inside out.

“Nutrient-rich foods are the way to go,” says Adrienne Raimo, R.D. She’s an integrative and functional dietitian-nutritionist at One Bite Wellness based in Columbus, Ohio. “They have high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, plus anti-inflammatory properties. As a bonus, these [nutrients] benefit your skin and your whole body.”

Antioxidants are particularly important for your skin. They’re natural substances found in food, and they help protect cells from damage that can lead to aging, wrinkles and even skin cancer.

So how do you add skin-healthy nutrients to your diet? An easy place to start is to “eat the rainbow” by consuming a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, says Amy Archer. She’s a registered dietitian-nutritionist at Wellness RD in Campbell, California. Those bright colors come from different antioxidants that can protect your skin and keep you healthy.

Before you start writing your grocery list, let’s look at 13 fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-packed foods that are especially good for skin health.

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Avocados are a source of healthy fats that keep skin flexible and moisturized. “These help protect and nourish the skin, especially during the harsh and dry winter season,” says Raimo. Eating avocados can strengthen your skin from the inside, and mashed avocado makes a great hydrating face mask.


Beans are protein-rich and contain zinc. “Zinc is an essential mineral for immune and skin health,” says Archer. Zinc can also be used to treat inflammatory skin diseases like acne.


Blueberries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help reduce skin aging. They also contain vitamin C, which Archer says has many skin benefits. It can help:

  • Curb dry skin
  • Decrease wrinkles

And “it’s protective against UV radiation [from the sun] and promotes wound healing,” Archer adds. UV, or ultraviolet radiation, comes from the sun and can damage skin cells. Too much exposure to certain types of UV rays can lead to skin cancer.


Broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes:

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Watercress

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in sulfur. “Sulfur is a necessary component of collagen, which helps retain fluid and provide elasticity to the skin and other tissues,” explains Raimo.

Dark chocolate

The cacao in dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and is also a good source of iron. “Iron helps with nerve transmission, moving oxygen throughout the body and nourishing tissues — including the skin,” explains Raimo. Archer recommends dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao to maximize the benefits to your skin.

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Dark leafy greens

Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are a good source of vitamin E. This powerful nutrient is known for reducing inflammation and skin damage caused by sun exposure. Leafy greens also provide vitamin K and folate. Vitamin K protects collagen, which keeps skin plump and firm. Folate helps with DNA repair and new cell growth, says Archer.

Fatty fish

Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help your cells stay hydrated. These nutrients are essential to help keep the skin moisturized and bolster the skin’s barrier. They may also reduce inflammation, which can help manage skin conditions such as psoriasis.

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Polyphenols are compounds that are found in a variety of plant foods, and they act as antioxidants. Red grapes contain a polyphenol called resveratrol. It may help protect your skin from damage and aging, Archer says.

Green tea

Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins, which may:

  • Improve hydration, thickness and elasticity of the skin
  • Protect the skin from sun damage
  • Reduce redness

Green tea also has polyphenols, which have been found to help treat and reduce acne.

Orange vegetables

Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene. This antioxidant gives them their orange color — and your body uses it to make vitamin A, which supports the growth of healthy skin and hair.

Sunflower seeds

An ounce of sunflower seeds contains:

  • 37% of the vitamin E you need in a day
  • 10% of the zinc you need in a day
  • 32% of the selenium you need in a day

Along with skin-protecting vitamin E and zinc, selenium is an important mineral that lessens skin damage and inflammation.


Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect your skin from sun damage. Lycopene is found in other red fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and papaya. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, which is needed to form skin-firming collagen.


Nuts are known for being rich in healthy fats. But walnuts contain super skin-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which help keep the skin moisturized. Plus, they’re a good source of zinc and vitamins E and C.

Bonus: Don’t forget about water!

Water is perhaps the most important thing you consume for your skin health. “It’s responsible for helping move nutrients into cells, including skin cells. It also helps remove toxins from your cells,” explains Raimo.

In short, drinking water is “one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to enhance your skin health and natural beauty,” she adds.

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Antioxidants. “Lycopene as a natural antioxidant used to prevent human health disorders.” August 2020. Retrieved from

Cleveland Clinic. “Ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer.” November 16, 2022. Retrieved from

Dermatologic Therapy. “Serum zinc levels and efficacy of zinc treatment in acne vulgaris: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” November 2020. Retrieved from

Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. “The potential uses of omega-3 fatty acids in dermatology: a review.” May 28, 2020. Retrieved from

Nutrients. “Vitamin A in skin and hair: an update.” July 19, 2022. Retrieved from

Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute. “Vitamin C and skin health.” Retreived from Accessed November 27, 2023.

Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute. “Vitamin E and skin health.” Retrieved from Accessed November 27, 2023.

Purdue University. “Foods to improve your skin health.” September 30, 2021. Retrieved from

Tufts University. “Food for healthy skin.” September 21, 2020. Retrieved from

University of Washington. “Nutrition month: Eating for skin health.” March 16, 2020. Retrieved from

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