By Taylor Jones
Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain and even affect organs such as your heart and liver.
What you eat also affects the health of another organ—your skin.
As more is learned about how diet affects the body, it's becoming increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
This article takes a look at 12 of the best foods for keeping your skin healthy.
1. Fatty Fish
Some studies have found that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting the skin, such as psoriasis and lupus (4).
Fatty fish are also a source of vitamin E, which is one of the most important antioxidants for the skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for protecting the skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation (5).
They're also a source of high-quality protein, which is necessary to make the structural proteins that maintain the strength and integrity of the skin (5).
Lastly, fish is a source of zinc, a mineral that's important for regulating inflammation, the production of new skin cells and overall skin health. Having a deficiency in zinc can lead to skin inflammation, skin lesions and delayed wound healing (6).
Bottom Line: Fatty types of fish contain essential fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and keep skin moisturized. They are also a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin E and zinc.
Getting enough of these fats is important for keeping skin flexible and moisturized.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect the skin from oxidative damage. Vitamin E is also a nutrient most Americans don't get enough of.
Interestingly, vitamin E seems to be even more effective when it's combined with vitamin C (5).
A deficiency in vitamin C is rare these days, but common symptoms include dry, rough, scaly skin and bruising easily.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that protects your skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and environment, which can lead to signs of aging (11).
A 100-gram serving (about 1/2 an avocado) provides 10 percent of the RDI for vitamin E and 17 percent of the RDI for vitamin C (12).
Bottom Line: Avocados are high in healthy fats and contain vitamins E and C, which are important for healthy skin. They may also contain compounds that protect the skin from sun damage.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin.
They are a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself.
A diet too high in omega-6 fats promotes inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of the skin like psoriasis. Omega-3 fats, on the other hand, help reduce inflammation in the body, including in the skin (14).
While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare. Walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids and may, therefore, fight the inflammatory response to too much omega-6.
What's more, walnuts contain other nutrients that your skin needs to function properly and stay healthy.
One ounce (28 grams) contains 6 percent of the RDI for zinc, which is essential for the skin to function properly as a barrier, as well as necessary for wound healing and fighting both bacteria and inflammation (15).
Bottom Line: Walnuts are a good source of essential fats, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and protein, all of which are nutrients that your skin needs to stay healthy.
4. Sunflower Seeds
In general, nuts and seeds are good sources of nutrients that are important for healthy skin.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent example.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contains 32 percent of the RDI for the antioxidant selenium, 10 percent of the RDI for zinc and 5.4 grams of protein (16).
This amount also contains 37 percent of the RDI for vitamin E, which is a great way to make sure you're getting enough of this important vitamin and antioxidant (16).
Additionally, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of linoleic acid, the essential omega-6 fat found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils that your skin needs to stay thick, flexible and moisturized (16).
In a large observational study of more than 4,000 women, a high intake of linoleic acid was associated with a lower risk of dry and thin skin as a result of aging (17).
Bottom Line: Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for the skin. They also contain linoleic acid, a type of fat that may prevent dry and thin skin.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in plants.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of it.
One 1/2-cup serving (100 grams) of baked sweet potato contains enough beta-carotene to provide nearly four times the RDI of vitamin A (19).
Carotenoids like beta-carotene help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock.
When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and protects your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death and the resulting effects of dry, wrinkled skin.
Interestingly, beta-carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier look (5).
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which acts as a natural sunblock and protects the skin from sun damage.
6. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
They are also one of the best sources of vitamin C, the antioxidant that's necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. One cup of bell pepper provides an impressive 317 percent of the RDI for vitamin C (20).
A large observational study in women found that eating plenty of vitamin C was associated with a lower chance of skin appearing wrinkled and becoming dry with age (17).
Bottom Line: Bell peppers contain plenty of beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which are important antioxidants for the skin. Vitamin C is also necessary to create collagen, the structural protein that keeps skin strong.
It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. It protects the skin from oxidative damage, which can cause skin to become dry and wrinkled.
But broccoli florets also contain a special compound called sulforaphane, which seems to have some impressive health benefits. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer (22, 23).
In the lab, sulforaphane reduces the number of skin cells killed by UV light by as much as 29 percent and the protection lasts for up to 48 hours. There is also evidence that it helps maintain collagen levels in the skin (24).
Bottom Line: Broccoli is a good source of vitamins, minerals and carotenoids that are important for skin health. It also contains sulforaphane, which may help prevent skin cancer and protect the skin from sunburn.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene.
Because tomatoes contain all of the major carotenoids, they are an excellent food for maintaining healthy skin.
However, carotenoids need fat to be absorbed, so be sure to pair tomatoes with something like cheese or olive oil.
Bottom Line: Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and all of the major carotenoids, especially lycopene. These carotenoids protect the skin from sun damage and may help prevent wrinkling.
They may have several potential health benefits, including possible benefits for the skin.
One small study of women in their 30s and 40s found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks improved fine wrinkles and skin elasticity (28).
In postmenopausal women, soy may also help improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong (29).
These isoflavones not only protect the cells inside of your body from damage, but also protect your skin from damage from harmful UV rays. This may even help prevent the development of some skin cancers (30, 31, 32).
Bottom Line: Soy contains isoflavones. Isoflavones have been shown to improve wrinkles, collagen, skin elasticity and skin dryness, as well as protect the skin from UV damage.
10. Dark Chocolate
As if you needed one more reason to eat chocolate, the effects of cocoa on skin are pretty impressive.
One study found that after 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants, participants experience thicker, more hydrated skin.
Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn and had better blood flow, which brings more nutrients to the skin (33).
Another study found that regularly eating just 20 grams of dark chocolate high in antioxidants per day could allow skin to withstand more than twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared to eating chocolate low in antioxidants (34).
Several other studies have produced similar results, including improvements in the appearance of wrinkles. However, it is worth mentioning that at least one study did not find significant effects (35, 36, 37, 38).
Evidence shows that cocoa may be a powerful tool for keeping your skin young and protected from damage. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa in order to maximize the health benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
Bottom Line: Cocoa contains antioxidants that may protect the skin against sunburn. They may also improve wrinkles, skin thickness, hydration, blood flow and skin texture.
11. Green Tea
Green tea may also have the ability to protect your skin from damage and aging.
The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins and they work to protect and improve the health of your skin in several ways.
One 12-week study in 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25 percent. It also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness and elasticity of their skin (42).
While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk. There's evidence that milk could reduce the beneficial effects of its antioxidants (43).
Bottom Line: The catechins found in green tea are powerful antioxidants that can protect skin against sun damage and reduce skin redness, as well as improve the hydration, thickness and elasticity of skin.
12. Red Wine
Red wine is famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes.
Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits and reducing the effects of aging is one the most well-known.
The skin has specific binding sites for resveratrol. When applied to the skin, this compound has been shown to slow skin's aging.
Unfortunately, there's not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to make a difference in your skin. And since red wine is an alcoholic beverage, there are negative effects to drinking it in excess.
It's not a good idea to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. But if you drink in moderation anyway, you might want to consider red wine as your drink of choice.
Bottom Line: Resveratrol, the famous antioxidant found in red wine, may help slow the aging process of the skin by quenching harmful free radicals that damage your skin.
Take Home Message
What you eat can have a huge effect on the health of your skin.
From making sure you're getting enough essential nutrients to protecting your skin, the foods on this list are great options to keep your skin at its best.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexander Richard Braczkowski, Christopher O'Bryan, Duan Biggs, and Raymond Jansen
A Cute But Threatened Species<p><a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-is-a-pangolin" target="_blank">Pangolins</a> are the only mammals wholly-covered in scales, which they use to protect themselves from predators. They can also curl up into a tight ball.</p><p>They eat mainly ants, termites and larvae which they pick up with their sticky tongue. They can grow up to 1m in length from nose to tail and are sometimes referred to as scaly anteaters.</p><p>But <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128155073000332" title="Chapter 33 - Conservation strategies and priority actions for pangolins" target="_blank">all eight</a> pangolin species are classified as "<a href="https://www.pangolins.org/tag/endangered-species/" target="_blank">threatened</a>" under International Union for Conservation of Nature <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/search?query=pangolin&searchType=species" target="_blank">criteria</a>.</p><p>There is an unprecedented demand for their scales, primarily from countries in Asia and <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12389" title="Assessing Africa‐Wide Pangolin Exploitation by Scaling Local Data" target="_blank">Africa</a> where they are used in food, cultural remedies and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/141072b0" title="Chinese Medicine and the Pangolin" target="_blank">medicine</a>.</p><p>Between 2017 and 2019, seizures of pangolin scales <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/02/pangolin-scale-trade-shipments-growing/" target="_blank">tripled in volume</a>. In 2019 alone, 97 tons of pangolin scales, equivalent to about 150,000 animals, were <a href="https://oxpeckers.org/2020/03/nigeria-steps-up-for-pangolins/" target="_blank">reportedly</a> intercepted leaving Africa.</p>
Reintroduction of an Extinct Species<p>Each year in South Africa the African Pangolin Working Group (<a href="https://africanpangolin.org/" target="_blank">APWG</a>) retrieves between 20 and 40 pangolins through intelligence operations with security forces.</p><p>These pangolins are often-traumatised and injured and are admitted to the <a href="http://www.johannesburgwildlifevet.com/our-hospital" target="_blank">Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital</a> for extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation before they can be considered for release.</p><p>In 2019, seven rescued Temminck's pangolins were reintroduced into South Africa's <a href="https://www.andbeyond.com/destinations/africa/south-africa/kwazulu-natal/phinda-private-game-reserve/" target="_blank">Phinda Private Game Reserve</a> in the KwaZulu Natal Province.</p><p>Nine months on, five have survived. This reintroduction is a world first for a region that last saw a viable population of this species in the 1980s.</p><p>During the release, every individual pangolin followed a strict regime. They needed to become familiar with their new surroundings and be able to forage efficiently.</p>
A ‘Soft Release’ in to the Wild<p>The process on Phinda game reserve involved a more gentle ease into re-wilding a population in a region that had not seen pangolins for many decades.</p><p>The soft release had two phases:</p><ol><li>a pre-release observational period</li><li>an intensive monitoring period post release employing GPS satellite as well as VHF tracking tags.</li></ol>
Why Pangolin Reintroduction is Important<p>We know so little about this group of mammals that are vastly understudied and hold many secrets yet to be discovered by science but are on the verge of collapse.</p><p>The South African and Phinda story is one of hope for the Temminck's pangolin where they once again roam the savanna hills and plains of Zululand.</p><p>The process of relocating these trade animals back into the wild has taken many turns, failures and tribulations but, the recipe of the "soft release" is working.</p>
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By Jake Johnson
In a move that environmentalists warned could further imperil hundreds of endangered species and a protected habitat for the sake of profit, President Donald Trump on Friday signed a proclamation rolling back an Obama-era order and opening nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of New England to commercial fishing.
Why You Should Wash Fresh Produce<p>Global pandemic or not, properly washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a good habit to practice to minimize the ingestion of potentially harmful residues and germs.</p><p>Fresh produce is handled by numerous people before you purchase it from the grocery store or the farmers market. It's best to assume that not every hand that has touched fresh produce has been clean.</p><p>With all of the people constantly bustling through these environments, it's also safe to assume that much of the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables" target="_blank">fresh produce</a> you purchase has been coughed on, sneezed on, and breathed on as well.</p><p>Adequately washing fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them can significantly reduce residues that may be left on them during their journey to your kitchen.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a proven way to remove germs and unwanted residues from their surfaces before eating them.</p>
Best Produce Cleaning Methods<p>While rinsing fresh produce with water has long been the traditional method of preparing fruits and veggies before consumption, the current pandemic has many people wondering whether that's enough to really clean them.</p><p>Some people have advocated the use of soap, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/white-vinegar" target="_blank">vinegar</a>, lemon juice, or even commercial cleaners like bleach as an added measure.</p><p>However, health and food safety experts, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), strongly urge consumers not to take this advice and stick with plain water.</p><p>Using such substances may pose further health dangers, and they're unnecessary to remove the most harmful residues from produce. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/chlorine-poisoning" target="_blank">Ingesting commercial cleaning chemicals</a> like bleach can be lethal and should never be used to clean food.</p><p>Furthermore, substances like lemon juice, vinegar, and produce washes have not been shown to be any more effective at cleaning produce than plain water — and may even leave additional deposits on food.</p><p>While some research has suggested that using neutral electrolyzed water or a baking soda bath can be even more effective at removing certain substances, the consensus continues to be that cool tap water is sufficient in most cases.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The best way to wash fresh produce before eating it is with cool water. Using other substances is largely unnecessary. Plus they're often not as effective as water and gentle friction. Commercial cleaners should never be used on food.</p>
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables With Water<p>Washing fresh fruits and vegetables in cool water before eating them is a good practice when it comes to health hygiene and food safety.</p><p>Note that fresh produce should not be washed until right before you're ready to eat it. Washing fruits and vegetables before storing them may create an environment in which bacterial growth is more likely.</p><p>Before you begin washing fresh produce, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-wash-your-hands" target="_blank">wash your hands well</a> with soap and water. Be sure that any utensils, sinks, and surfaces you're using to prepare your produce are also thoroughly cleaned first.</p><p>Begin by cutting away any bruised or visibly rotten areas of fresh produce. If you're handling a fruit or vegetable that'll be peeled, such as an orange, wash it before peeling it to prevent any surface bacteria from entering the flesh.</p><p>The general methods to wash produce are as follows:</p><ul><li><strong>Firm produce.</strong> Fruits with firmer skins like apples, lemons, and pears, as well as <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/root-vegetables" target="_blank">root vegetables</a> like potatoes, carrots, and turnips, can benefit from being brushed with a clean, soft bristle to better remove residues from their pores.</li><li><strong>Leafy greens.</strong> Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, leeks, and cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and bok choy should have their outermost layer removed, then be submerged in a bowl of cool water, swished, drained, and rinsed with fresh water.</li><li><strong>Delicate produce.</strong> Berries, mushrooms, and other types of produce that are more likely to fall apart can be cleaned with a steady stream of water and gentle friction using your fingers to remove grit.</li></ul><p>Once you have thoroughly rinsed your produce, dry it using a clean paper or cloth towel. More fragile produce can be laid out on the towel and gently patted or rolled around to dry them without damaging them.</p><p>Before consuming your fruits and veggies, follow the simple steps above to minimize the amount of germs and substances that may be on them.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Most fresh fruits and veggies can gently be scrubbed under cold running water (using a clean soft brush for those with firmer skins) and then dried. It can help to soak, drain, and rinse produce that has more dirt-trapping layers.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Practicing good food hygiene is an important health habit. Washing fresh produce helps minimize surface germs and residues that could make you sick.</p><p>Recent fears during the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/coronavirus" target="_blank">COVID-19 pandemic</a> have caused many people to wonder whether more aggressive washing methods, such as using soap or commercial cleaners on fresh produce, are better.</p><p>Health professionals agree that this isn't recommended or necessary — and could even be dangerous. Most fruits and vegetables can be sufficiently cleaned with cool water and light friction right before eating them.</p><p>Produce that has more layers and surface area can be more thoroughly washed by swishing it in a bowl of cool water to remove dirt particles.</p><p>Fresh fruits and vegetables offer a number of healthy nutrients and should continue to be eaten, as long as safe cleaning methods are practiced.</p>
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By Danielle Nierenberg
Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, people around the United States are protesting racism, police brutality, inequality, and violence in their own communities. No matter your political affiliation, the violence by multiple police departments in this country is unacceptable.
Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.
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Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>