Just ask the experts. We talked to 6 dermatologists to find out about the foods that they reach for on the regular to boost hydration, fight wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, keep blemishes at bay, and even soothe eczema and psoriasis. (Rejuvenate your hair and skin—and lose up to 25 pounds!—with Prevention’s Younger in 8 Weeks plan.)
Here’s a look at their must-haves, and what makes them so powerful.
I eat at least one avocado per week. They provide healthy monounsaturated fats that maintain cell membranes, helping skin stay soft, smooth, and hydrated. They’re also rich in phytochemicals that serve as strong antioxidants that protect the skin from damage, along with vitamins and minerals that help skin repair damage when it does occur. (Try these 7 delicious ways to use an underripe avocado.)
—Charles Crutchfield III, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School Clinical
I reach for ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil regularly. Flaxseeds contain lignans—plant compounds that function like omega-3 fatty acids to fight acne-related inflammation and keep dry skin at bay. They can also help in treating skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Flaxseed oil also helps with constipation. That’s important, since clearing out toxins through proper and regular elimination is important for optimal health and the overall appearance of your skin.
—Robin Evans, MD, founder of Southern Connecticut Dermatology
Here in south Florida, hyperpigmentation and sunspots are a year-round concern. To protect against that, I eat minimally processed soyfoods (like tofu, tempeh, and miso) 3 to 5 times per week. Soy contains phytoestrogenic compounds called isoflavones. They bolster cell metabolism, helping skin look brighter and more even. (Don’t like tofu? These 7 recipes will change your mind.)
—Adam Gropper, MD, founder of Vivid Face in Miami, Florida
Good news: Chocolate is good for your skin. Cocoa contains flavanols that have been shown to improve skin texture and thickness, and fight dryness by preventing water loss at the skin’s surface. Cocoa’s flavanols improve circulation, too, so nutrients and oxygen are transported to the skin more efficiently. I like dark chocolate that’s 70% or higher, and enjoy 1 to 1½ ounces per day.
—Arielle Kauvar, MD, director of New York Laser & Skin Care
I like to have freshly peeled grapefruit with dinner. Compared to other citrus fruits, it’s got the most vitamin C—which your body needs in order to produce the skin-smoothing protein collagen. And because it has a low glycemic index, it has a less dramatic impact on blood sugar compared to some other fruits. That’s important, since steady blood sugar slows down glycation—the natural aging process that destroys collagen.
—Harold Lancer, MD, founder of Lancer Dermatology in Beverly Hills
I eat almonds every morning with yogurt for breakfast. The almonds have an anti-inflammatory effect, while the probiotics in yogurt have been shown to help protect against acne and eczema. I also always recommend to drink green tea and plenty of it—the tea’s polyphenols help protect against damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. (Here’s what happened when one writer drank green tea every day for a month.)