Top 5 Foods for Skin Health — How to Replenish & Improve Your Skin with Nutrition

Written by: Rebecca Eaton



Time to read 10 min

At Dr Tanya Skincare, we firmly believe that radiant skin goes well beyond quality skincare. Truth be told, skin health begins deep inside, starting with the foods you nourish your body with. 

If you’ve got your skincare ritual down-pat and are still struggling to see the results you feel you’ve worked hard for, it might be time to reevaluate your diet. Wondering what the best foods for skin health are and how you can add more to your diet? Keep reading! 

The quick guide:

First things first, how can food affect your skin?

Several factors play a role in determining your skin health, from genetics to your environment. If you’ve ever wondered how what you consume impacts your body’s largest organ, let’s take a quick look at how the wrong foods can have a not-so-nice effect:  

  • Oxidative stress — Oxidative stress refers to your cells undergoing damage due to free radicals. Various factors, including sun exposure, air pollution, alcohol, and smoking, cause free radicals. However, they can also result from a diet high in fat, sugar, and highly-processed foods. Simply put, oxidative stress expedites the appearance of ageing. 
  • Inflammation — Consuming a diet high in processed foods is known to cause inflammation in the body. Unfortunately, this can disrupt the bacteria in our gut, negatively affect our immune system, and lead to chronic inflammation. When looking at skin health, ongoing inflammation and irritation can release agents that result in inflammatory damage, interfering with the skin’s structural components (i.e., collagen and elastin). What does this mean? Early signs of ageing, characterised by sagging skin and wrinkle formation.

Our Top 5 Best Doctor-Recommended Foods for Skin Health

A close up image of tuna cooked on a bed of greens

1. Fatty Fish

You may have heard that certain types of fish — such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, etc. — are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. But do you know what this really means and why it’s one of the best foods for skin health? Let us break it down. 

Omega 3 fatty acids help improve your skin’s fatty acid composition and support its inflammatory response. Simply put, they help to regulate your skin’s oil production, keep acne breakouts at bay, reduce the signs of ageing, and support hydration. Additionally, regularly consuming Omega 3-rich food will help soften, smooth, and moisturise dry skin, minimise skin irritation and inflammation caused by skin conditions, and even reduce the impact of sun damage. 

The cherry on top? Fatty fish is also high in protein and zinc, which are respectively important for supporting your skin’s strength and elasticity, inflammation, and the production of new skin cells.

Try this: Tuna Rice Salad Bowl

Serves 8 | Takes 30 mins to make

The ingredients:

  • 900g cooked rice (approx. 400g uncooked rice)
  • 400g springwater tuna
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 red capsicum, peeled using a peeler and deseeded and diced
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped into smaller portions
  • 5 spring onions, sliced finely
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 large handful of pitted kalamata olives, chopped roughly
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

The method:

Step one: In the rice bowl, briefly stir in the tuna.

Step two: Mix in the peas, capsicum, tomatoes, spring onions, parsley and olives.

Stir through the mayonnaise, lemon, and olive oil, ensuring it is thoroughly mixed.


Source: BBC Food

Avocado and spinach thinly sliced on a cracker

2. Avocado 

Seems too good to be true, right? Thankfully, this incredibly versatile, extra creamy, and indisputably delicious food is good for more than just your tastebuds. 

Known as a super fruit, avocado is naturally abundant in healthy fats, vitamins E and C, and minerals. Adding more avocado to your diet supports your skin health in more ways than one. Let’s take a closer look at their benefits:

  • May reduce skin damage — Free radicals caused by UV light, environmental toxins, alcohol, and more all significantly damage your skin, resulting in early signs of ageing. Thankfully, avocados are rich in antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, phenolics, and carotenoids, which play an essential role in helping to safeguard your skin from free radical damage. All in all, avocados are suggested to help protect your skin from sun damage, inflammation, and oxidative damage.
  • Supports skin elasticity — Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats (roughly 70%), which may help improve skin elasticity and reduce the visibility of wrinkles. One eight-week study found that participants who consumed an avocado daily saw significant improvements in skin elasticity and firmness compared to those who didn’t.
  • Reduces skin inflammation — When skin is inflamed, it often breaks down your skin cell’s structure, resulting in the loss of collagen, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and more. Unfortunately, this generally results in the appearance of ageing (i.e., skin sagging, wrinkles, etc.). Thankfully, avocado contains alpha-linolenic acid, which is known to reduce the body’s inflammatory factors. In turn, this can slow down the onset of premature ageing. 

Fun fact: Several studies have found that adding avocado oil to your diet boasts a variety of benefits. For example, one study, in particular, found that unrefined avocado oil can drastically increase the skin’s soluble collagen content, helping it maintain its smoothness, strength, and structure.

Try this: Tomato Penne Topped with Avocado 

Serves 2 | Takes 20 mins to make

The ingredients:

  • 100g wholemeal penne
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, 1 tbsp finely chopped and the remainder sliced
  • 1 orange capsicum, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 196g can of sweetcorn in water
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped or sliced
  • ½ lime, zest and juice
  • 1 handful of coriander, roughly chopped (extra to serve, if desired)

The method:

Step one: Boil a pot of water and add salt. Once it reaches boiling point, cook the penne pasta for 10-12 minutes. 

 Step two: Heat oil in a medium-sized pan, add the sliced onion and capsicum, and stir until golden (approx. 10 mins). Stir in the garlic and spices, then pour in the can of tomatoes, half a can of water, the corn, and the bouillon. Cover and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.

Step three: While simmering, prepare the avocado topping. Simply toss the avocado with lime juice, zest, and finely chopped onion.

Step four: Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce mixture. Add the coriander.

Dish up each plate and top with the avocado mixture, and stop with additional coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Source: BBC Foods

Sweet potato fries with guacamole, salsa, greek yoghurt, and herbs

3. Sweet Potato

In the last decade, sweet potato has enjoyed a notable rise to fame, owing to its well-known health benefits and undeniably versatile nature. Yet, its benefits go well beyond its body-nourishing properties. Believe it or not, this delicious vegetable also boasts an array of skin-supporting benefits. 

Sweet potato contains a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Potassium, Fibres, Iron, Calcium, Selenium, and Antioxidants. With a nutrient list this impressive, it’s no wonder sweet potatoes can offer the following benefits to your skin:

  • Boasts anti-ageing properties — Sweet potatoes contain an active form of Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), which assists with the production and growth of cells. This incredible vegetable also contains anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid antioxidant that may offer anti-ageing benefits owing to its ability to help neutralise free radicals. As free radicals damage cells through oxidative stress, reducing this process minimises the appearance of ageing (i.e., fine lines and wrinkles).  
  • Supports collagen production — Sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidant Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen production, which maintains skin elasticity, strength, and structure. Without adequate collagen, our skin loses its structure, firmness, and volume, resulting in the first signs of ageing. 
  • Reduces UV damage — Sweet potato contains vitamin A, an important vitamin for treating sun-damaged skin. Additionally, sweet potatoes contain folate. Folate deficiencies are suggested to increase your sensitivity to UV damage. 

Fun fact: Sweet potato may also be the secret hair-nourishing food you’ve been looking for. They contain many nutrients known to support hair, ranging from Vitamin B and Potassium to Vitamin C and Zinc. However, more studies are required to understand the link between sweet potatoes and hair health and growth.

Try this: BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4 | Takes 1.5 hours to make

The ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken
  • ½ cup of barbeque sauce, and more to serve
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced into quarters
  • 1 small jalapeno, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

The method:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and place sweet potatoes on the tray. Coat with oil, salt, and pepper.

Step 2: Bake the sweet potato until tender (approx. 1 hour). Take them out of the oven and let them cool down enough to slice the top of each sweet potato to create a well (pushing in both ends).

Step 3: In a medium bowl, combine chicken, barbeque sauce, and garlic. Stuff mixture into sweet potatoes before topping with red onion, jalapeno, and Gouda.

Step 4: Place the loaded sweet potatoes back in the oven for roughly 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and chicken is heated. Drizzle with BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Source: Delish

A jar of walnuts

4. Walnuts

Walnuts are a universally adored superfood that supports heart health, weight management, and more. Yet, many people don’t realise that these nutrient-dense super nuts also help nourish your skin, improving its radiance and appearance. 

Similarly to fatty fish, walnuts are one of the richest sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6, unsaturated fatty acids. Believe it or not, consuming as little as 2-3 walnuts daily is required to give your skin the nourishment it needs to thrive. Let’s take a closer look at why science suggests adding this simple yet unbelievably powerful food to your diet:

  • Protects you against free radical damage — Walnuts are abundant in antioxidants, which help flush the body of unwanted toxins and safeguard you against the damaging effects of free radicals. All in all, this helps to purify your blood. Much like many of the other foods above, walnuts’ antioxidant content also helps to ward off premature signs of ageing (i.e., fine lines and wrinkles).
  • Moisturises your skin — Walnuts contain Vitamins B5 and E, which play an important role in maintaining skin hydration and nourishment.
  • Supports more radiant skin — Walnuts are suggested to minimise skin pigmentation and reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin, allowing for a smooth, evenly-toned, and glowing complexion. 

If you want something more exciting than simply munching on a few walnuts daily, we recommend trying out the following salad for a tastier take on skin health.

Try this: Walnut and Pear Salad 

Serves 4 | Takes 10 mins to make

The ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cups mixed baby lettuces
  • 1 medium pear, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins

The method:

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together oil, lemon juice, honey, thyme, mustard, pepper, and salt.

Step 2: Add the lettuce to the mixture and gently combine.

Step 3: Top the salad with sliced pear, cheese, walnuts, and raisins.

Step 4: Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Source: Eating Well

A box of broccoli and Brussel sprouts

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is jam-packed with skin-nourishing vitamins and minerals, including Zinc, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Much like many of the other foods listed above, broccoli works to support skin health in the following ways:

  • Protects your skin from free radicals — Broccoli contains a carotenoid called lutein, which works similarly to beta carotene. Lutein is known to help protect your skin from oxidative stress, subsequently slowing down the onset of premature ageing.  
  • Protects your skin from UV damage — Broccoli (particularly the florets) also contain a unique compound known as sulforaphane. This compound can help safeguard your skin from sun damage by neutralising free radicals while activating other protective systems. With less UV damage comes younger, more supple-looking skin. One study showed sulforaphane minimised UV-induced skin cell damage by 29%. 
  • Slows down the visible signs of ageing — Although we’ve covered the indirect benefits above, broccoli has another compound that contributes to its anti-ageing benefits. Broccoli contains nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which produces a compound essential for energy metabolism that may help reduce the appearance of ageing. Likewise, Vitamin C also plays a role in collagen production, directly impacting skin elasticity, structure, and youthfulness.

Try this: Veggie Loaded Fritters

Serves 2 | Takes 30 mins to make

The ingredients:

  • 140g zucchini, grated
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 85g broccoli florets, finely chopped
  • 1 small packet of dill, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free flour or rice flour
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (for frying)

The method:

Step 1: Once grated, squeeze the zucchini in your hands to eliminate any excess liquid.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, and then add broccoli, zucchini, and most of the dill. Mix until combined. Add the flour and continue to thoroughly mix the mixture before seasoning.

Step 3: Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Once hot enough, add a large spoonful of the mixture to the pain. You should be able to fit roughly three fritters on at a time.

Step 4: On medium heat, cook the fritters until golden brown, roughly 3-4 minutes per side. Continue this process until all batter is cooked.

Step 5: Garnish and enjoy!