Garlic has natural antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal properties that it gets from its components called allicin and thiosulfinates. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals essential for healthy and clear skin, particularly vitamin A and B6, copper, and zinc. Apart from being beneficial at reducing and preventing breakouts, garlic is also capable of reducing swelling, redness, and inflammation of the skin and improves blood flow throughout the body, including the skin.
Poor blood circulation, redness, and swelling are all problems we tend to face more as we age, and ones that can make us appear tired and unwell, not to mention their negative effect on self-confidence. Simply add in some minced garlic or even garlic powder into a pasta sauce, stir-fry or any other savory dish on the daily, and you'll experience the beneficial effects first hand.
Blueberries are not just a delicious treat, which you can eat alone as a snack or sprinkle on top of any sweet meal like pancakes, granola, or oatmeal, they are a real vitamin and antioxidant powerhouse. More specifically, blueberries are rich in vitamins A and C, both of which are well-known for preventing wrinkles and collagen depletion, and are the key active ingredients in countless anti-aging skin care products in different forms, such as retinol, tretinoin, and ascorbic acid, just to name a few.
Just add a handful of these delicious antioxidant-rich berries into your diet and be sure they will improve your skin and protect it from rapid aging in the long run.
Like blueberries, watercress is packed with vitamins A and C, and the crunchy leafy green is so easy to sprinkle on top of any food or incorporate into a salad it's a no brainer. Since both vitamins A and C are categorized as antioxidants, they have the ability to prevent free radical damage, which has been attributed to skin aging, gray hair, and even several serious degenerative diseases like cancer.
In fact, a 2007 study looked at the antioxidant properties of watercress and found that a daily 85 g (approximately 2.5 cups) intake of the leafy green added to a person's usual diet can significantly reduce DNA damage in adults. But even if you end up eating less of it and supplement it with other antioxidant-rich foods, you should be able to experience similar beneficial effects.
4. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to the table all year, and not only on Thanksgiving. In fact, replacing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes when you can is a real pro-tip when it comes to skin rejuvenation. This is because sweet potatoes, like carrots and bell peppers, get their vibrant color from beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, which the human body converts into Vitamin A - a regular feature on this list, at this point.
The root vegetable is also rich in vitamins C and E, which are also magnificent for retaining a more youthful complexion and preventing acne if consumed regularly. So, even a seemingly indulgent food like the sweet potato may help retain skin elasticity and promote collagen production - which is great news!
Apart from antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, our skin also needs fats to be able to function normally and stay taut, which is exactly why people with dry skin often look older than those with oily skin. Healthy, plant-based oils (vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids) like those in nuts will be able to replenish the oils your skin needs, especially as oil production decreases as we age.
Healthy fats also help you prevent skin issues like redness, inflammation, and acne, as they will promote a healthy barrier function of the skin and won't let environmental stressors irritate and infect your skin. Best of all, though, nuts are very easy to add into your diet, as you can eat them alone as a snack, or top desserts, salads, and stir-fry with a handful of nuts.
Avocados are another excellent source of healthy plant-based fats, we all probably know that, but that's not all, as the fruit is also packed with skin-benefiting vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as potassium, and magnesium. These creamy, delicious fruits are well-known for their age-defensive abilities, so it is hardly a surprise that we decided to include them on this list. Studies suggest that the average half-an-avocado intake is an ideal quantity for a day.
Beans and lentils are an amazing choice no matter your age since they do benefit our body in a variety of ways and are virtually indispensable for vegetarians and those who want to reduce their meat intake, which frankly should be most of us. General health benefits aside, though, the abundance of vitamin B9 in most legumes has an extra benefit for your hair and is said to both prevent hair loss and gray hairs. Need we say more?
The rule of thumb is that all dark green and leafy green vegetables are beneficial for aging skin, as the dark green color equals antioxidants, but broccoli is high in vitamin C in particular, which is necessary for the production of collagen in the skin.
The vitamin is also excellent for giving your skin a brighter look and helps your skin get rid of hyperpigmentation, such as acne scars, sun spots and age spots. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin K, as well as lutein - a special compound in broccoli that halts cognitive decline.
9. Sesame Seeds
Both sesame seeds and sesame seed oil are amazing for your skin and hair. Like all the items on this list, these tiny seeds are packed with beneficial nutrients, and sesame seeds have it all - vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. Just a sprinkling of these seeds on top of any food, or the addition of oil into various dishes will help your hair remain healthy and strong, and your skin will be youthful and clear for decades on end.
Pomegranates may be seasonal and slightly less accessible to everyone, but we just had to add them to this list because they can do so much for the skin. For one, they share all the health benefits provided by a high content of Vitamin C and antioxidants, which we already discussed earlier.
Apart from that, however, the seeds of the delicious fruit contain punicalagins - powerful compounds found exclusively in pomegranates that may be able to slow down aging and boost collagen production in the skin. Lastly, like all foods on this list, eating more pomegranates is easy - you can eat a handful of the seeds as a snack, or sprinkle them on top of foods.
Like most leafy greens, spinach contains an impressive list of vitamins, namely vitamin C, E, K, and A, as well as such minerals as magnesium, lutein, and heme iron. While vitamins A, C, and E will greatly benefit aging skin, vitamin A, in particular, is known for also promoting the growth of strong and shiny hair.
Vitamin K, on the other hand, can also act as an anti-inflammatory agent and could reduce inflammatory reactions like redness, acne, etc. on the skin. That's pretty impressive for one ingredient, isn't it? Of course, spinach is also endlessly versatile and its mild taste makes it a fuss-free addition to salads, soups, smoothies, and many other foods.
12. Shiitake Mushrooms
All mushrooms will contribute to your daily nutrient intake, as they're rich in various vitamins and minerals, but shiitake mushrooms are kind of special, and scientists think that it's the high content of copper in the famous Japanese mushrooms that accounts for their ability to help slow down or even somewhat counteract hair graying.
So, if your gray hairs bother you and you really want to stop them from multiplying, just add some of these savory mushrooms to your diet from time to time. These days, both dried and fresh shiitake are a common sight in most supermarkets, and they're a really tasty addition to soups, stews and the like.