50 Foods That Make You Look Younger
Get your Benjamin Button on with this science-curated diet.
We’d all love to turn back the clock—at least superficially. It’s why we get Botox. It’s why we get bimonthly colorings. It’s why we collectively spent $11 billion on teeth whitening treatments in 2017 alone. But for truly age-defying beauty, none of these treatments are necessary. As it so happens, you can keep your your skin as taut as a guitar string and hair as lustrous as silver (without a single silver strand, of course) with just a few dietary additions. So read on and eat on—and get your Benjamin Button on. And for more ways to optimize your diet, start eating more of the 30 Best Foods For Maximizing Your Energy Levels.
Sure, the salt-and-pepper look lends gravitas, but it also belies age. So, if you’re not at—or would like to look younger than—the right age (graying should begin about mid-40s for most folks), there’s an easy fix. According to a study in Biological Trace Elemental Research, one of the primary causes of premature graying is copper deficiency. To boost your levels, slate more shiitake mushrooms into your diet; just one cup of the fungi holds more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value. Of course, if you’ve passed the point of no return, you can just master The Secret Tricks For Nailing The Silver Fox Look.
When it comes to keeping your muscles taut as you age, one nutrient reigns: Protein. However, some key sources of protein—red meat, in particular—have aging effects, thanks to high fat and LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind) levels. Instead, get your protein from a low-fat, healthy source, like sardines. As a bonus, they’re also loaded with Omega-3s, which help reduce LDL cholesterol, and Vitamin B12, which helps promote cardiovascular function. The only tough part is figuring out how to stomach these nasty fish. And for more amazing health advice, This Is Why You Should Sleep With Your Feet Outside Your Covers.
If you’d prefer to get your protein from a non-aquatic source, you could do far worse than a helping of Greek yogurt. For one thing, it’s loaded with protein. But the stuff is also high in Vitamin B12. In fact, according to research out of Harvard Medical School, just two 6-ounce servings of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12. And for more ways to optimize your diet, start eating the 20 Best Anti-Aging Foods For Folks Over 40.
You’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of this foodie trend du jour. But in recent years, maca root has grown increasingly popular, thanks to its near-magical skin-boosting properties. The stuff is loaded with riboflavin, niacin, and Vitamin B6, all of which, according to High Altitude Medicine and Biology, have been shown to promote skin cell regeneration. You can get your maca fix from smoothies (via powder form), pastries (either your local health-conscious bake shop or own recipes), or supplements. And for some great health news, Here’s the All-New Medical Test That Can Pinpoint Your True Age.
Phytonutrients—also referred to as phytochemicals—are found in anything that goes through photosynthesis. (In other words: Pretty much all plants.) Phytonutrients are known to boost your skin’s ceramide content, which, according to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, leads to softer, smoother, younger-looking skin. And when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, you can’t beat rosemary. The aromatic herb contains more than a dozen phytonutrients. And for more ways to feed your complexion, here are the 40 Best Ways to Have Your Best Skin.
Any skincare expert will tell you that, when it comes to preserving your skin’s health, sunscreen is your best ally. But you can reap the effects of sunscreen by eating loading up on tomatoes. According to research in the British Journal of Dermatology, folks who get about 5 tablespoons of tomatoes daily can see up to a 33 percent reduction in UV ray absorption. What’s more, tomatoes—plum tomatoes, in particular—are loaded with antioxidants that ramp up collagen production. (Collagen leads to plump, plush skin.) Finally, on top of all of that, eating tomato sauce is one of the 40 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease After 40.
Fact: Everyone wants to mitigate decades of coffee stains. (Indeed, according to a recent study, nearly 90 percent of Americans would give up a luxury—whether it’s dessert or vacations—for an entire year to have whiter teeth.) But the most effortless solution to whiter, younger chompers doesn’t require a package of expensive white strips. Instead, just brush your teeth with turmeric. Thanks to the orange powder’s inherent abrasive properties, brushing your teeth with the stuff can peel back just enough enamel to remove stains. For more on how this works—and how to do it—read up on how turmeric can give you your whitest smile ever.
Chocolate lovers (so, everyone), rejoice: Your favorite treat is officially healthy. In addition to well-documented BP-slashing benefits, chocolate, according to research in the Journal of Nutrition, can also help firm up skin; the flavanols within can help shield you from the harmer effects of UV rays. The catch? (Of course there’s a catch.) You’ll have to eat chocolate with a 70-plus percent cacao rating to reap any benefits. In other words, step away from the Milky Way. And for a complete guide for turning back time, here are the 100 Best Anti-Aging Secrets!
For ethereal skin, slate unprocessed soy into your diet wherever possible. According to a study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, just three months of regular consumption can help protect you from wrinkling. To be certain you’re consuming unprocessed soy, go for edamame: Other than some steaming and salting, the tasty green bean is as produce-to-plate soy as you can get.
As with all things, too much olive oil is a no-go; just one tablespoon is nearly 120 calories, and that can add up fast. But a drizzle here and there isn’t fine—it’s recommended. Studies indicate that the antioxidants inherent in olive oil have been shown to prevent aging-induced blemishes and wrinkles. What’s more, thanks to high levels of BP-stabilizing “nitro fatty acids,” olive oil is one of the 40 Heart Foods to Eat After 40.
Chances are, you’re well aware of the cold-busting benefits granted by Vitamin C. But what you may not know is that Vitamin C is a bona fide superhero when it comes to skin health: The nutrient simultaneously helps protect skin cells from premature death and helps bolster collagen production. When it comes to loading up on Vitamin C, you may think of oranges as a great source—and they are! But grapefruit takes the cake; just one grapefruit contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value for adult individuals.
Mangos, like grapefruit, are loaded with Vitamin C; in fact, you just need to eat half of one mango to hit that 100-percent mark. What’s more, mangos contain carotenoids that help protect you from the harmful effects of UV rays. And for more ways to live smarter, here are the 40 Health Myths You Hear Every Day.
Kiwis, too, are a sleeper source of Vitamin C: One cup of peeled kiwi (we’d recommend steering clear of the hairy skin, if only because it’s fuzzy and weird) has more of the nutrient than one cup of oranges.
You can also get a healthy dose of Vitamin C from a similarly orange fruit: Papayas. Though we’d recommend eating these at a minimum; papayas have more sugar than other Vitamin C–rich foods.
To be sure, lemons alone don’t have more Vitamin C than oranges. (A lemon-sized orange has about 50mg to a lemon’s 30.) But if you want good skin, lemons should be part of your culinary repertoire. For one thing, you can effortlessly add lemon to many dishes—from a complex grilled fish recipe all the way down to a simple glass of water. And for another, lemon juice also happens to be part of many en vogue skincare products. So it’s good both in and out. And if you’re looking for more great cooking advice, here are the 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
Boring, sure, but this classic fruit is an easy way to load up on Vitamin C.
Lentils, like sardines and Greek yogurt, are an excellent source of healthy, lean protein. But lentils are also full of Vitamin B9, which has been found to help help your mane in two main ways: By preventing both early graying and balding.
One of the culprits of thinning hair may be iron deficiency. The nutrient’s primary function is to move oxygen through your body’s blood and cells. So, when iron levels are low, hair follicles—the type of cell that grows individual strands—don’t get the oxygen they need to do their job: Grow healthy hair. Combat that trend by slating more iron-rich beef into your diet. Just be sure to get the grass-fed variety; you’ll reap the heart-healthy benefits of Omega-3s and dodge the high fat within of processed beef. And when you’re ready to cook it, Steal Bobby Flay’s Top Steak-Cooking Secret.
Vegetarians—and other folks who can’t or won’t eat meat—consider eggs. In addition to being rich in hair-enforcing iron, they’re also a great source of biotin, a B-Vitamin considered to help prevent nails from growing weak and brittle with age.
Every type of berries contains antioxidants, but blueberries give you your best bang for your buck. According to a study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the anthocyanins—that’s the stuff that makes blueberries blue—within help alleviate the “photoaging” caused by UV exposure. In other words, they can potentially turn back the clock on minor wrinkles and blemishes. (Not to mention that blueberries are a good source of skin-firming Vitamin C.)
Strawberries are loaded with polyphenols, which have much-touted anti-aging effects, including increased collagen production. (And yes, strawberries, like blueberries, are a good source of Vitamin C.)
According to a study in Food and Function, the specific anthocyanins in blackberries can help reduce scarring. So, if you’ve picked up a collection of battle wounds over the years, stock up on the bumpy fruit. (One cup daily happens to be a good source of Vitamin C, as well.)
As you age, your teeth grow weaker. (Dentures not included.) To keep them stronger for longer, ingest a daily dose of cranberries. According to a study in Archives Oral Biology, cranberries can help prevent “dentin erosion”—or, in plain aging, inevitable tooth cracking and chipping. (Cranberries, for what it’s worth, aren’t that good a source of Vitamin C.)
You can find a good amount of protein from any nuts, but almonds have among the highest protein-to-calorie ratio. What’s more, almonds are loaded with copper (which helps prevent graying), biotin (which firms up aging nails), and Vitamin E (which helps maintain your skin’s complexion and hair’s sheen as you age).
These days, almond oil is an increasingly popular hair product. But eating it can help your hair shine, too, thanks to high Vitamin E levels. Just four tablespoons will give you the daily recommended value of the nutrient. (You’d need 16 tablespoons of peanut butter to get that amount.)
For skin that glows like the sunlight, eat something with a similarly golden glow: Sweet potatoes. According to a study in the Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, the tasty tater can help brighten up your skin’s complexion. And there’s really no excuse not to chow down; sweet potatoes are also among the 10 Healthy Carbs That Won’t Derail Your Six-Pack.
More and more folks these days are using cinnamon oil to plump up hair. (If you notice thinning strands, ask your go-to salon about the stuff.) But consuming cinnamon can help your hair, as well. Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital have pegged cinnamon as a follicle stimulator, since it, like, iron, can help oxygen move through your body.
No, carrots won’t help improve your vision. (That crackpot theory has been debunked nearly as many times as it’s been posited.) But carrots will help improve your skin. According to a study in Nutrients, carrots consumption is linked to increased collagen production. Just don’t eat too much, or you’ll turn orange. (Just kidding—that one, too, is as equally silly as the sight-boosting theory.)
According to a study in Toxicology Research, acai berry extract can help speed up skin cell regeneration. What’s more, this superfood is also loaded in belly-filling fiber, making it a perfect way to start your day.
Kale is stacked with Vitamin K, which, according to research out of the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York, can help prevent (and in some cases reverse) skin discoloration.
According to a study out of the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, zinc is an essential nutrient for rebuilding damaged skin cells. Among the most common forms of zinc: Oysters.
Yes, oatmeal is a great source of zinc (which helps with skin health), but it’s also a good way to get your daily dose of iron (which helps your hair). Go for steel-cut oatmeal, which has less processed sugars than the regular stuff. Then top your bowl off with a healthy serving of antioxidant-packed berries for maximum age-defying benefits.
Much has been espoused about the health benefits of broccoli, every child’s (and some adults’) least favorite food. But if you want to turn back the clock, eat more broccoli sprouts. They have, according to some experts, more than 10 times the antioxidants of regular old broccoli.
Think of cheese like edible, delicious toothpaste. According to a study in General Dentistry, folks who abstained from brushing their teeth for two days saw their mouth’s pH levels bounce up to just-brushed status after eating cheese. The primary cause of aging-related discoloration? Out-of-whack, overly acidic pH levels. You do the math.
Whole wheat options
Any health-conscious individual will tell you that swapping your grains out for whole wheat options wherever possible should be step number one in living a healthier lifestyle. But, in addition to well-documented heart-healthy and belly-busting benefits, whole grains can also help you age in reverse. Refined carbs—white bread and its ilk—cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket, which in causes your body to convert sugar into collagen-harming glucose. Unrefined carbs—whole wheat bread, pasta, that sort of thing—don’t cause that effect.
Pumpkin (and pumpkin seeds)
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when it comes to naturally shielding yourself from the negative effects of UV exposure, few things do the trick like beta-carotene, which pumpkins are loaded with. And after you get your fill, don’t toss the remains out. Due to their high manganese—a nutrient known to boost collagen production—levels, pumpkin seeds are a veritable culinary holy grail.
As mentioned, protein will help prevent your muscles from prematurely deteriorating. Most (edible) seafaring creatures are full of the nutrient, especially, if you’ll recall, sardines. But let’s face it: Sardines are downright disgusting. You can get that protein from a tastier source, like salmon. Go for the sockeye variety, which has more Omega-3s and less saturated fat.
Tuna, like most fish, is an excellent muscle-booster. But there’s a hidden age-defying benefit to the fish. Per research out of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Pukyong National University, the unsaturated fatty acids in tuna can help minimize the prominence of wrinkles.
Among protein-to-fat ratios, turkey is among the best foods you can eat: For every 24 grams of protein, you’ll get only about 6 grams of fat. Be sure to roast yours, so you don’t end up with any unnecessary, calorie-laden butter or oils in the dish.
Turkey may be the top dog—or bird, rather—when it comes to eating for protein, but chicken is a close second. For every 24 grams of protein, you’ll get a little under 7 grams of fat (if you steer clear of the skin).
When it comes to antioxidant- and vitamin-filled foods, you may think of the usual suspects: Kale, berries, and other popular fruits and veggies. But don’t sleep on watercress: It’s equipped with Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K, all of which keep your skin in plump condition.
Like pumpkin seeds, pineapple is a great source of manganese—and you should really load up on the nutrient. According to research in Dermato-Endocrinology, a deficiency of manganese can actually cause your skin to prune up faster.
If you don’t want dentures, you’d do well to drink more green tea. According to a study in the Journal Of Preventative Medicine, just one cup of sugar-free (yes, that’s the catch) green tea prevented inevitable tooth loss in elderly adults. We’d recommend swapping one of your daily cups of coffee out for a cup of green tea—both are caffeinated beverages. (And green tea won’t cause any unwanted coffee stains.)
Rooibos tea, though not as age-defying as its green tea cousin, is still a great anti-aging beverage. Rooibos tea is full of polyphenols, which shield your skin from any early-onset wrinkling and blemishing.
Yes, seriously. According to a study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, silicon, which is thought to increase blood circulation to your scalp—and hair follicles—is more present in beer than nearly any other beverage on the planet. So if anyone questions your beer habit, just tell them that it’s science-endorsed. (Well, within reason, of course.) Cheers.
Puffy eyes, sallow skin, a diminished demeanor—skipping out on sleep is a surefire way to instantly age yourself. So combat that by drinking a glass of fresh cherry juice each night. According to a study in the American Journal of Therapeutics, one nightly glass of the stuff can add nearly an hour-and-a-half, on average, to a person’s nightly rest. And for more ways to get your nightly beauty sleep, learn the 65 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.
Tahini is rich in skin-plumping and hair-enforcing polyunsaturated fats and B vitamins. Not sure where to find it? Hit up your local Mediterranean joint for some fresh-made hummus. It’s a key ingredient. (Don’t go for the store-bought stuff, which tends to have additional unhealthy oils and sugars.)
According to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, water can help your skin stay radiant. Regular H2O consumption prevents skin from drying out; lengthy spells of dry skin can reduce your skin’s natural glow. For a good source of water, eat cucumbers—which, as a bonus, per research in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, can help dampen down any skin-related inflammation.
Need a good source of water? It’s in the name.
Of course, the absolute best source of water—yes, even more than cucumbers and watermelon—on the planet is, well, water! For best bets, consume at least six 8-ounce glasses per day.
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