Most of us are on a mission to find for perfect anti-ageing skin care routine. This hunt usually results in trying and testing hundreds of face washes, creams, and serums, masks, and supplements on a daily basis. When we’ve got a bit more money to spare, we might treat ourselves to a spa treatment or an acid peel, or, when there’s less cash to splash, resort to using makeup to cover up the wrinkles we don't like.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these methods of preventing skin ageing – apart from that they’re all fairly expensive, and only ever produce short-term effects. Even if you find an anti-ageing product that seems to work for you, you’ll need to use it regularly for the rest of your life to benefit from its ingredients.
If you’d rather spend your money elsewhere from time to time, try putting your experiment with skincare treatments on hold and instead of eating the foods that help your body produce the best protein for anti-ageing: collagen.
What is collagen and why do we need it?
If you’re still somewhat confused about the role collagen plays in the skin ageing process, here’s everything you need to know. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is found in our skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Aside from being essential for joint health, collagen is also responsible for maintaining supple skin and elasticity.
As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen. Luckily, there are ways we can provide ourselves with the collagen we’re missing out on to keep our hair, skin, and nails healthy and glowing.
Here are the 13 biggest healthy collagen-promoting foods to add to your diet today:
Oysters might be more of a fine dining food, but if you want an excuse to eat them outside of a fancy restaurant, they’re thought to be incredibly beneficial for anti-ageing. Oysters contain high levels of copper, which is a key mineral that helps us to create collagen.
Also found in oysters is zinc, which is an important nutrient for skin health. Zinc helps to heal wounds faster and maintain the appearance of the skin.
You can serve oysters raw, baked, grilled, or steamed in a variety of dishes. If you’ve never cooked with oysters before, give it a go! It’s worth trying something new for the anti-ageing benefits they provide.
Legumes like black beans, green peas, peanuts, soybeans, and green beans contain many minerals and proteins that can improve your skin’s suppleness and texture. Chickpeas are especially great for collagen synthesis because they are rich in zinc and vitamin C, which help to repair damaged skin faster.
It’s simple to add legumes to your dishes in place of carbohydrates like potato, pasta, and rice. Because they’re high in protein, you can also swap legumes for meat products for a vegetarian or vegan take on your favourite dish.
Chicken contains all of the amino acids required to make collagen. These compounds are the building blocks of both peptides and proteins, and play a specific role in skincare.
Amino acids maintain the skin’s hydration, texture, resilience, and an overall supple, healthy appearance. Eating chicken is the simplest way to provide your skin with a good dose of what it needs to stay as smooth as possible.
There are hundreds of popular dishes that include chicken for you to try out in your anti-ageing diet. Try roasting chicken in its own juices to get the best skincare benefits from your dish.
4. Leafy greens
Greens like spinach, cabbage, kale, collard greens, and lettuce are known for carrying all sorts of nutrients, including a skincare favourite, vitamin C. The nutrient that makes these veggies green is just as important in keeping your skin healthy.
All green plant foods contain chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their vibrant green colour. Studies have shown that consuming chlorophyll may increase procollagen, the forerunner to collagen, in the skin.
Chlorophyll and liquid chlorophyll supplements can offer strong antioxidant activity against UV damage, preventing free radicals from promoting premature ageing. You can get more than enough chlorophyll from your diet alone, by adding dark green leafy veggies to your main dishes during lunch and dinner time.
5. Red bell peppers
Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients involved in collagen synthesis, and red bell peppers are a fantastic source of it. The older the pepper gets, the more vitamin C it contains, making red peppers (the oldest type) most useful for collagen production. Vitamin C provides protection from free radicals, helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and brightens and promotes an even skin tone – all the anti-ageing essentials.
You can switch up your green and yellow peppers for red peppers for the highest vitamin C content. Peppers taste delicious when fried and added to curries, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. You can also roast peppers in olive oil to fire up the flavour in your dishes.
No matter how you enjoy your eggs, providing you eat the yolk, you’ll benefit from their anti-ageing properties. Egg yolks contain the collagen we need for strong, supple, wrinkle-free skin.
Egg whites also carry the amino acids and trace minerals needed to make collagen. As an added bonus, the collagen found in eggs can help to support joint health, so much so that many people now take eggshell supplements for their joints alone.
It’s really simple to include more eggs in your diet. They’re a fantastic protein source, so when you fancy a break from meats, you can use eggs in their place. You’ll get the most nutritional benefits from boiling or poaching your eggs rather than frying them.
7. Citrus fruits
Vitamin C is a particularly effective anti-ageing organic compound as it’s needed to link amino acids during collagen production. One medium-sized orange has about 70 mg of vitamin C, which is pretty good, considering the daily recommendation for an adult woman is 75 milligrams. Vitamin C contributes to photoprotection, helping to prevent damage from sunlight and speed up wound healing.
Citrus fruits are the best-known sources of vitamin C, but actually, other fruits and vegetables have been found to carry more. Top sources of vitamin C include kiwi, papaya, mango, cauliflower, spinach, and potatoes. Try switching up your regular fruits and veggies for these ones if you don’t eat them already.
Berries are another great source of vitamin C. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries all contain a hearty dose of vitamin C that works wonders on the skin. They also contain something called ellagic acid, which has been shown to prevent collagen breakdown by fighting against UV ray damage. Raspberries and blackberries in particular can protect your skin from skin cancer, thanks to their antioxidants, which neutralize the free-radical damage that sun exposure causes.
Berries are a great natural sugar substitute if you’re looking to cut down your sugar intake while maintaining good skin health. You can add them to your breakfast muesli or yogurt, bake them into desserts, or eat them on their own as a sweet snack.
9. Bone broth
Bone broth is one of the most well-known and popular sources of collagen. Bone broth helps heal the digestive track and prevent the inflammation that leads to ageing and certain auto-immune conditions. It also contains amino acids, which we need to tighten skin and enable it to thrive and stay hydrated.
If you've got the time, you can easily make bone broth yourself, by boiling beef, chicken, or other animal bones in water until you draw out all their essential nutrients. This process takes several hours to complete but will give you the best collagen source of all in your diet. You can also purchase pre-made bone broths for similar benefits with far less preparation needed.
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Tomatoes — especially sun-dried tomatoes –contain high levels of the vitamin C needed for collagen production. They also contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which experts say can protect skin from sun damage and collagen breakdown. Tomatoes are some of the best all-round anti-ageing superfoods to add to your diet and can prevent age-related diseases like osteoporosis and even cancer.
Add tomatoes into a salad or a pasta dish for an instant skincare kick. The red fruit provides a base for many Mexican and Italian dishes, so there’s plenty of opportunities to use it in your home-cooked dishes. Tomatoes are also great snacking food on their own.
Chlorella is a single-celled algae that you can most commonly purchase as a green tablet or powder. It might sound like an illness from the past, but chlorella actually provides some of the best natural anti-aging benefits from a dietary source alone. Not only is chlorella a source of beta-carotene, but it also contains another nutrient that may help boost collagen production: Chlorella Growth Factor.
Chlorella Growth Factor, also known as CGF, can only be found in chlorella and contains a certain DNA that gives our cells instructions on which functions to perform— including cellular repair and regeneration, which may encourage collagen synthesis. You can add chlorella powder to your smoothies and breakfast dishes or take chlorella tablets as a supplement.
12. Salmon (with the skin)
While you might naturally remove the skin from your salmon before you eat it, experts say you’ll benefit more from leaving it on. In general, salmon is a great anti-ageing option as it's rich in the amino acids needed to produce collagen, but salmon skin itself contains a high concentration of type I collagen, which accounts for the majority of collagen in the skin.
There are ways to cook your salmon that will give it a delicious crispy skin, such as pan-searing it and baking it in a sweet or tangy glaze. Take a look at a few online recipes if you’re looking for inspiration.
13. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are all-round nutritional powerhouses. For starters, they’re a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants, iron, and calcium. A tiny 1-ounce serving of chia seeds also contains 5.6 grams of protein. Mixed with water, they make an effective replacement egg in vegan cooking.
For anti-ageing, chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These healthy fats build healthy skin cells, providing moisture to the skin, which creates a smooth, supple appearance from the inside out.
Simply sprinkle chia onto your sweet and savoury dishes, or mix with milk or yogurt to make a chia pudding, to benefit from the tiny seeds.