Contributor: Stacy Taylor

As summer fades into autumn and then to winter, the skin begins to miss its daily dose of vitamin D and natural light. With the harvest of colourful fruits, vegetables, and berries it is quite easy to eat a diet high in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals – without even trying.

There are some foods that are generally considered good for the skin. It is said that eating them can help to clear your skin, reduce inflammation, or protect from sun damage.

  1. Fatty Fish – salmon, mackerel, herring – are high in Omega 3 (plant-based supplements are available)
  2. Avocados – the healthy fats help to keep skin flexible and moisturised
  3. Walnuts – are one of the richest nuts in Omega 3 and Omega 6, in amounts where they work together for skin health 
  4. Sunflower Seeds – are high in Vitamin E, linoleic acid, selenium and zinc
  5. Sweet Potatoes – high in beta-carotene, which acts as a natural sunblock
  6. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers – as well as being high in beta-carotene, they are one of the best sources of Vitamin C
  7. Broccoli – a skin superfood that is high in zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, lutein.  These can help against dry skin and prevent wrinkles
  8. Tomatoes – can protect the skin against damage from the sun and wrinkling – especially when paired with cheese or olive oil
  9. Soy – contains isoflavones that can mimic estrogen in the body; which can improve skin elasticity and improve fine lines. 
  10. Dark Chocolate – high in antioxidants, which has many benefits, however in terms of skin health it can smooth out a complexion
  11. Green Tea – catechins; they protect the skin from damage and aging
  12. Red Wine – contains reservatrol, which when consumed can reduce the production of free radicals which damage the skin and contribute to skin aging. For those that do not drink, reservatrol is actually found in the skin of red grapes.

The fresher these foods are the more benefits they can have on skin health. There are still benefits to tinned tomatoes they are just not as plentiful as fresh ones.  With winter coming, in the Northern Hemisphere, getting some of these foods fresh may be difficult.  With the lack of fresh colourful fruits and vegetables it may seem difficult to get enough Omega Oils and Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc.

The Northern Hemisphere has a lot of green leafy vegetables in season in autumn and winter.  Such vegetables include kale, winter lettuce, some spinach varieties and kohlrabi.

Kale is high in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, E, and K as well as in iron – all of which are good for skin health and the complexion.

Kohlrabi, a cabbage-like plant quite common in Germanic countries, is full of nutrients including copper, potassium, manganese, iron and calcium. Manganese supports collagen production and helps to fight free radicals, which keeps skin healthy and resilient.

Spinach contains Vitamins B, C, E and the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and omega 3-fatty acids.  Minerals help to stimulate the skins metabolic process.  All minerals are high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

Oats are prevalent throughout the seasons and make for a great breakfast. Oats are full of fibre, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B5 (pantothenic acid); they also contain smaller quantities of calcium, potassium, B6 (pyridoxine) and B3 (niacin).  They are also fairly high in protein and protein promotes strong hair and nails.

Another food common to find year-round is baked beans, often called a poor man’s breakfast meat, are actually just as high in protein as meat; contain fibre, as well as folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6.

A skin healthy diet is one full of a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fibre (fibre helps to move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through the skin in the forms of acne or a rash). This is easier with a plant-based diet, as there are far more vitamins, minerals, and fibre in vegetables than meat. Oatmeal in the morning and sipping green tea throughout the day will provide the body (and therefore the skin) with a large percentage of its daily dose of vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and catechins.

Starting your day with a vegetarian full English breakfast: baked beans, toast, hash browns, grilled tomato, will give the body more than ample healthy skin (and healthy diet) essentials, and substituting the tea for a green tea is a great idea.

For those who start the day with a smoothie, try adding kale, spinach, and/or kohlrabi to it for the vitamins and minerals your skin craves in the winter.

As long as lunch or dinner includes a salad with the available winter leafy greens, your body and your skin will thank you. Your skin will even show its appreciation with a clear complexion.

Bio: Stacy has an environmental blog focusing on the impact that our beauty and cosmetics have on the environment. The site also offers reviews on products and the companies She has been an active volunteer most of her life with organisations from Amnesty International to the SPCA.  Currently she sits on the Board of Directors of Earthsave Canada and helps with the social media of Surfrider Vancouver.