It is hard to go into fall and not think about food — it is harvest season, after all. And, while these months are dedicated to all things pumpkin spice and apple pie, they are also about gathering together to nourish our bodies, souls and skin with the season’s best produce and ingredients from the inside out for an inner glow as vibrant as the changing leaves.
“When it comes to the skin, a balanced diet plays a crucial role in keeping the skin radiant and healthy,” explains Valerie Agyeman, founder and dietitian of Flourish Heights. “Food is so powerful and impacts how we feel on the inside and how we look on the outside, so you’ll be doing yourself a big favor by filling up on foods that provide nutrients like vitamins A and C, B vitamins, minerals like zinc and iron, healthy fats and protein to keep your skin healthy, tight and glowing,” she adds.
The Best Fall Foods for Skin
From everyday lunches to Thanksgiving feasts, these are the foods to focus on for optimum skin health this season.
Sweet Potatoes: When shopping for fall produce, it is best to go with color — which means orange sweet potatoes versus russet are a must-try. “These have fabulous amounts of vitamin A, an antioxidant that can help protect our skin from free radical damage,” says Colleen Christensen, R.D.
Pumpkin: It is hard to imagine fall without pumpkin. But, it is best to avoid the sugar-loaded sweets (yes, including those Instagram-worthy PSLs!) as the added sugar can wreak havoc on health and skin, leading to premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, reach for real pumpkin as it is not only delicious but also “packed with vitamins and minerals (especially A and C),” says Agyeman. Both of which can “help with preventing acne and healing any skin damage,” she adds. Speaking of skin damage, pumpkin is also high in beta-carotene, “which helps reverse and protect from UV damage,” says Michelle Ricker, R.D.N. and Herbalife Nutrition Dietary Advisory Board Member.
Pumpkin Seeds: If you are cooking with pumpkin this season, do not toss the seeds! These are “a great source of manganese, which helps [with] collagen formation and may help with skin elasticity,” explains Christensen. “One thing that sets these little seeds apart from the rest of the pumpkin is that they’re high in zinc — more so than a lot of other foods,” Ricker adds. “Zinc helps create new skin cells and, again, aids in collagen production to help keep up looking young.”
Apple: Apple-picking just got a whole lot juicier! “Apple can work wonders on your skin with its abundance of vitamin C for anti-aging and cell and collagen production,” explains Agyeman. What’s more? It can also soothe the skin, which is beneficial during the colder, drier months of the year.
Pomegranate: With fall comes the delicious pomegranate, which, with its impressive skin care benefits, is worth the seed extraction efforts. “With three times the amount of antioxidants as green tea or red wine, it’s super antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging,” says Agyeman. “It’s especially great for sun protection and its punicic acid prevents moisture loss,” she adds.
Cranberry: Like other berries, cranberries are beneficial to the skin because of its antioxidant count. However, this fall berry is also rich in fatty acids, “so there’s lots of cell protection and moisturizing going on,” says Agyeman.
Swiss Chard: Swiss chard might not be the first fall ingredient you think of, but it is certainly noteworthy. “It’s fantastic because it’s super high in vitamin E, which keeps the skin moisturized and protects from free radical damage, which causes wrinkles,” explains Ricker.
Beets: The next time you roast a pan of fall veggies, consider adding beets to the mix. “This is a great time of year for these awesome vegetables,” says Ricker. “Because they have really great anti-inflammatory properties [and] antioxidants [such as] vitamin C, they’re a great option to eat in order to help naturally fight the aging process,” she adds.
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