Friday Faves: My Favorite Fall Foods with Great Skin Benefits

Fall is my favorite time of year. There’s so much I love about the season: the smells, the crisp air, Halloween, the fashion, the foliage, and, of course, the food. The fall harvest is ripe with many delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables, some of which are my favorites and I eat year-round—hello, sweet potatoes and apples! Aside from being good for your health, many of these foods are good for your skin, too! Here are some of my favorite fall foods with great skin benefits. Get ready to eat your way to a beautiful complexion!

What are your favorite fall foods?

1. Apples

Apples contain an abundance of skin-friendly nutrients including vitamin C, copper, and vitamin A. Vitamin C is what helps your body make collagen—a vital structural component of skin—and helps maintain your skin’s waterproof barrier. Our bodies are not able to make vitamin C on their own, and we don’t store it; it’s important to include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods in our daily diet.

Vitamin A, a retinoid, also has an important role in skin development: it helps undeveloped skin mature into functional skin tissue. Vitamin A also promotes cell turnover and helps prevent the formation of black heads.

Apples also provide a good source of copper, which helps us make melanin. Melanin is the brown-black pigment that colors and protects our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Therefore, eating foods that contain copper enables us to produce melanin, a natural sunscreen for our skin. (Remember: Just because daylight fades earlier in the fall doesn’t mean you’re not exposed to harmful UV rays. You have to protect your skin year-round!)

To get the most nutrients, it’s best to eat apples in their raw form—and they’re pretty tasty that way. But for a comforting fall treat, try this light Ginger Apple Crisp recipe from Oxygen Magazine.

7_applecrisp

Photo: Ginger Apple Crisp from Oxygen Magazine; Paul Buceta

2. Chocolate

I consider chocolate to be a fall food because, well, Halloween, of course. But don’t think this is a pass to gorge on Halloween candy! (I assure you, doing so will not have a pleasant effect on your skin—or waist line.) Cocoa helps reduce stress hormones, which translates to less collagen breakdown and wrinkles. It also contains flavonols that protect skin from UV light, fight free radicals, and increase blood flow, giving you a glowing complexion. In order to reap these benefits, you must go with dark chocolate that contains at least 70% percent cocoa—which doesn’t apply to your typical candy aisle staples, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, or Milky Way bars.

I personally prefer dark chocolate, and the bitter the better. If you do, too, give Lindt 90% Cocoa Excellence bars a try.

Dark Chocolate - Fall Foods For Good Skin

Lindt 90% Cocoa Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar

3. Pumpkin

Pumpkin - Fall Foods with Skin Benefits

(Thinkstock)

Pumpkin is full of amazing skin-benefiting properties, both in its flesh and in its seeds. Along with vitamins A and C, pumpkin contains fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that increase cell turnover, helping to brighten and smooth skin. And pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E. Zinc is great for healing skin (it promotes skin renewal) and fighting acne (it controls hormone and oil levels). Essential fatty acids and vitamin E regulate sebum and help maintain the barrier function of skin—allowing good nutrients and water in but blocking out toxins.

Add some pumpkin seeds to your salad or oatmeal, or blend a little canned pumpkin (make sure it’s not pumpkin pie, which contains loads of sugar) into some Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or a smoothie.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain a ton of vitamin C, which helps keep skin smooth and supple by stimulating the production of collagen. They’re also a great source of beta-carotene (this is what gives sweet potatoes—and carrots, pumpkins, and apricots, etc.—their orange hue). Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. As I mentioned earlier, vitamin A is critical for the growth and repair of skin tissue (hence, vitamin A—or retinol—is used in so many beauty creams and products).

(Thinkstock)

(Thinkstock)

If we are what we eat, then I would probably be a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables; I eat at least four a week. But some people (like my sister) don’t care for them. If you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes, check out this article for ways to incorporate these sweet spuds into your beauty routine to reap all of their good-skin benefits.

5. Pomegranates

Pomegranate - Foods for Good Skin

Loaded with powerful antioxidants, pomegranates are great for improving the overall appearance of your skin: They prevent hyperpigmentation and wrinkles and promote elasticity. This fall (and winter) fruit contains skin-boosting vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, zinc, and potassium. Potassium helps balance fluid levels; eating pomegranates can provide added moisture to dry skin—which is a common complaint during fall and winter.

You can enjoy pomegranate seeds on their own, add them to salads, or top off your yogurt or oatmeal with them. You can also give this pomegranate guacamole recipe a try for a yummy and healthy snack—it’s also a great dish to take to your fall tailgating parties!

Do you eat any of these fall foods? What are some of your favorite fall fruits and veggies?

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