Healthy Cove

What to Eat for Healthy Skin

Our skin is our first line of defense against the harshness of the world.

Our skin protects us from viruses and bacteria. It keeps us warm when temperatures plummet, and cools us off when the air boils over. Amd shields our organs, nerves, and blood vessels and can even transform simple sunlight into that all important vitamin D.

Keeping your skin healthy is vital to your overall health.

For me, good skin health has always been a little harder to come by. I battled acne as a teenager, I have a fair complexion that burns at the mere mention of the sun, and I live in Utah—home to some of the driest air on the planet.

Now that I’ve hit the middle of my life (*crosses fingers*), I’ve become more mindful of the time I spend in the sun, moisturizer is my new best friend, and I deal with the occasional pimple with a good old-fashioned squeeze.

But I’ve also learned that good skin health works from the inside out, and there are plenty of foods you can eat to help keep your skin healthy and defend against exposure and age.


Coffee is a miraculous brew.

Eating for Healthy Skin: Coffee BeanThe drip-drip-drip of my old coffee machine and the waft of rich notes that follow has tugged me out of bed countless times (I love coffee; in fact, this post could easily derail into an ode to coffee). But it’s more than just go-juice; coffee has a heap of healthy perks and that includes benefits to your skin.

A steaming cup of joe contains small amounts of vitamins B2 and B5, as well as trace amounts of calcium and magnesium. But it overflows with antioxidants, and that’s where java can really save your skin.

Antioxidants work to rid the body of age-causing free radicals, and caffeine (yes, caffeine is an antioxidant) has been shown to help slow DNA damage.

Plus, a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals a link between drinking coffee and lower rates of melanoma.

Dark ChocolateEating for Healthy Skin: Dark Chocolate

Like coffee, dark chocolate has a slew of properties that are great for your skin.

The flavanols (antioxidants) found in dark chocolate can help protect skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. Plus, this tasty treat sparks the feel-good areas of your brain, lowering stress and in turn reducing the amount of wrinkle-causing stress hormones.

Dark chocolate also has a less is more quality. Because it’s low in sugar, but sweet enough to satisfy sugar cravings, it can keep your hand out of the cookie jar, which is great because sugar is one of the worst foods for your skin.

Just make sure you stick with 70 percent cocoa or higher. The higher the purity, the more gains for your skin.


Ever heard of lycopene?

Eating for Healthy Skin WatermelonIt’s the antioxidant responsible for giving a lot of fruits and vegetables their red color. It’s kind of a big deal, and watermelon just so happens to be loaded with the stuff.

And beyond its ability to paint the produce town red, lycopene is a windfall for your skin. It promotes the production of collagen (the protein skin is made from) and encourages the growth of new skin cells.

Watermelon’s benefits don’t stop at this powerful antioxidant, either. This summer treat is also loaded down with vitamins C and A. Plus it’s low in calories and sugar.


Fall is at our doorstep, which means pumpkin everything is too. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. It’s a delicious addition to your morning latte and

Eating for Healthy Skin pumpkinsit’s earned its place up and down the grocery aisles. But tread lightly—most pumpkin-flavored treats are packed with sugar.

Outside of its flavor-enhancing abilities, future jack o’lanterns are also quite healthy and one of the best foods for skin repair.

Pumpkin contains folate (necessary for skin-cell creation), beta-carotene (defends skin cells against oxidative damage), and copper (important for collagen production).

And pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc, essential fatty acids, and magnesium. All of which can help combat wrinkles, and dry skin. Simply roast in the oven and salt to taste for a delicious snack.

The next time you hack and slash a pumpkin for a front porch decoration, be sure to save its innards to make a skin-healthy treat of your own.

Olive Oil

When it comes to eating for a healthy complexion, olive oil is a must.

Eating for Healthy Skin olive oilThis magical elixir is chock full of antioxidants and vitamin E, both of which smash skin-damaging free radicals. But it’s olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties that really make it an asset to your skin.

Olive oil contains the compound oleocanthal, which can help reduce inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.

And on top of all of its wholesome traits, olive oil is easy to incorporate into your diet. You can drizzle on salad, brush it on corn on the cobb, use it to stir-fry vegetables, or mix it with Italian seasonings and spices for a delicious bread dip.

Consuming this staple of the Mediterranean diet is one of the best things you can do for your outer layer.

Honorable Mentions

The above mentioned foods are easy go-to’s for upping your skincare game, but they’re certainly not the only ones.

Eating for Healthy Skin EggsEggs are nutritional powerhouses and can do wonders for your skin. This core breakfast food contains the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been shown to help provide protection from ultra-violet rays. Plus, the amino acid proline found in eggs is used for collagen production and can help rebuild skin.

Dark leafy greens, hummus, avocado, and red wine are all loaded with nutrients and are some of the best foods you can eat for a healthy skin glow.

And speaking of collagen, vitamin C is perhaps the most crucial ingredient for making this protein building block. Luckily it can be found in healthy fare such as citrus fruits, broccoli, and strawberries.

There’s a buffet of skin-aiding foods out there. Just use your favorites to put together your own healthy skin diet plan. And the more of these foods you eat, the less room you’ll have for the refined sugar and processed foods that work against your skin.

Throw in a little exercise and quality beauty sleep and your outer armor will shine for a lifetime.

Healthy Cove



The science of your skin and its proper care can be best understood through a comprehensive view of its anatomy and physiology. Learn about the structure and function of your skin and its important proteins so you can make better, more informed decisions on how to care for your skin.

Layers of the Skin

Your skin is a composite of three layers of connective tissue. The epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis join at cellular junctions to create the largest organ of your body.

Each layer of your skin has a unique role in maintaining homeostasis—your body’s state of equilibrium. The skin regulates internal body temperature, protects delicate internal organs, and defends against pathogens and microbes.

For more information on the individual layers of your skin, their structure and function, see

Layer by Layer: Understanding Your Skin’s Structure.



Water retention is essential for healthy, vibrant skin. Dry skin can lead to a rough and bumpy appearance, and can cause injury when your skin cracks and breaks. A recent study published in the International Wound Journal highlights the importance of moisturizing skin daily. Moisturizing skin twice daily was shown to reduce the incidence of skin tears by nearly 50 percent in elderly patients living in an assisted living facility.

Moisturizers are most effective on dry skin when their ingredients reflect the natural oils produced by your skin. This similarity makes for a seamless integration of the moisturizer and your skin. These kinds of moisturizers trap water in your skin and promote healthy hydration. Plant-derived oils are particularly effective at moisturizing dry skin.

Collagen and Elastin

Your skin is made of a complex network of fibers and proteins that strengthen and reinforce its structure. Collagen and elastin are two of these integral proteins.

Collagen gives your skin incredible strength. Collagen production in the skin decreases as you age. This decrease can lead to the visible signs of aging—flat and dull skin, wrinkles, and fine lines. Several types of collagen proteins reside in your skin, and each performs a unique function.

At the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), collagen creates a structural framework for other skin cells. Collagen also plays a role in maintaining structural stability at the DEJ. Wrinkled skin contains much less collagen at the DEJ and the lack of stability of the area can lead to more wrinkles.

Elastin is another important protein in the skin matrix. It gives skin its bounce and resilience. Decrease in elastin production over time causes sagging skin.

While elastin naturally decreases with age, photo damage to this protein is the best understood cause of sagging skin. UV exposure causes elastin proteins to stiffen and coil, inhibiting their ability to bounce back into shape. Photo damage over long periods of time causes elastin proteins to lose their elasticity, keeping them from supporting the structure of your skin.

Skin creams and treatments that help minimize the appearance of aging usually contain ingredients designed to stimulate collagen and/or elastin synthesis. These products work to minimize damage done by age and the sun to reverse visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. To effectively minimize the look of wrinkles and fine lines, combine a regimen of these skin creams and sunscreen.

Skin and Aging


Inevitably, your skin will change as you age. Many of the visible signs of aging can be minimized by proper skincare. There are two well-established causes of visible skin aging—intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Effective skincare regimens target the signs of both types of aging.

Intrinsic factors governing skin aging include variations in an individual’s genetic background. Extrinsic aging refers generally to factors that originate outside your body. These include smoking, sun exposure, and poor nutrition. Sunburn is thought to account for nearly 80 percent of premature facial aging. The extrinsic factors that cause premature skin aging are largely preventable.

One of the most effective methods of minimizing the appearance of aging skin is including antioxidants in your diet. Berries, tea-tree oil, green tea, and grape-seed extract are some notable antioxidants that can be found in your diet and skincare products. Antioxidants fight off the damage caused to skin cells from the sun, and promote healthy cell function. Antioxidants are not only important for your skin, but they help maintain a healthy brain and body, too.


Understanding what goes on behind the scenes can help you make smart decisions about your skincare. Choosing a good moisturizer and trying to reduce damage done to the collagen and elastin in your skin can improve the health of your skin and minimize visible signs of aging. In addition, eliminating extrinsic aging factors from your daily life can be the extra boost your skin needs to look and feel healthy and strong.