5 summer foods that are great for your skin
A great way of eating a varied, balanced diet is to follow the seasons. Seasonal foods are fresher, tastier, and pack more nutrients than foods grown out of season. Eating with the seasons is also usually better for the environment, because your food doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to end up on your plate.
So what’s in season this summer, and what does it do for your skin? Let’s find out!
A favorite summer squash, zucchini (also called courgette) has a mild taste that works in most cuisines. It’s super low calorie as well, only 17 calories per cup. When it comes to nutrition, however, zucchini is a secret superfood. It’s low in fat, carbs, and calories, and contains a massive 40% of your Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A, as well as high amounts of vitamin C, K, B9, and B6.
Vitamin A is a skincare powerhouse. It helps control oil production, speeds up healing, and helps in the formation of collagen and elastin. It can also reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation, giving you skin that looks and feels vibrant and healthy.
That’s not all. Zucchini also delivers lots of potassium and manganese. These are essential for fighting sun damage, nourishing your skin, and improving hydration. And, like many fresh fruits and vegetables, zucchini is packed with antioxidants that fight oxidative stress.
Zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked, although some people find raw zucchini to be bitter. Try it grilled, sauteed, or spiralized to replace pasta with zoodles!
There’s nothing that says “summer” more than the smell of fresh tomatoes. These bright fruits (not vegetables!) are easy to grow in even the smallest space, so you can grow your own all summer long. Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, and are loaded with vitamin C, K, B9, and potassium. Vitamin C is super important for collagen production, and it’s also a powerful antioxidant. That means tomatoes can protect your cells from damage caused by UV light or fried food.
Tomatoes get their bright red color from beta-carotene. Your body converts this into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is incredibly beneficial to your skin, and also helps support lung and eye health, cognitive function, and might even prevent some cancers. The other pigment that gives tomatoes its color is lycopene. This is an antioxidant that protects skin against hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
You can eat tomatoes raw or cooked, so add them to salads, pasta, and soups, or roast them for even more intense flavor.
Cherries are a fruit that almost everyone loves. They come in a range of varieties and colors, from tart to sweet, and golden yellow to deep purple-red. Whatever kind of cherries you like best, they all come with great benefits for your skin and your overall health.
A cup of cherries contains about 100 calories, including 25 grams of carbs and 20 grams of sugar. However these sweet treats are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Copper is important for improving blood flow, and it boosts the production of elastin. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by making skin firmer and more resilient. Manganese is necessary for the production of collagen, so also helps to support the skin and target wrinkles.
Cherries are also a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and a type of organic compound called polyphenols. These help repair cell damage, and may even protect against conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
While it’s tempting to use cherries in rich, sugary desserts, they are delicious — and better for you — when paired with savory dishes. Try cherries with ham or chicken, roasted with vegetables, in salads, or eat them raw.
Green beans (May-September)
There’s more to green beans than your grandma’s Thanksgiving casserole! This summer favorite is a great source of fiber and plant protein, is low-sodium (when not canned!), and has zero cholesterol. Green beans are all full of beneficial vitamins, including vitamin A, K, and several B vitamins.
Vitamin K is important for helping your blood to clot properly. This has an effect on your skin’s appearance, helping to control stretch marks, spider veins, scar tissue, and hyperpigmentation. Niacin, a B vitamin in green beans, also protects your skin against sun damage.
Minerals in green beans include manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Phosphorus and calcium are important for maintaining healthy bones. Phosphorus is also essential for supporting nucleic acids and cell membranes, which makes for healthy cells.
Next time you’re at the store, skip the canned green beans and head straight for the fresh produce. Green beans are tasty raw, or lightly sauteed, blanched, or roasted.
Dandelion greens (May-July)
No, they’re not just for rabbits! More and more stores are starting to sell dandelion greens, for good reason. These unlikely leaves are incredibly nutritious, full of vitamins A, C, K, E, and B. They also have lots of beneficial minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. And finally, dandelion leaves are full of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and polyphenols.
All these ingredients help support healthy cellular function, protect against oxidative stress, and keep your whole body functioning well. Some studies have even shown that eating dandelion leaves can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve liver health.
Like spinach, you can eat dandelion greens raw in salads or sauteed. Try dandelion greens stirred into pasta sauce, or sauteed with garlic and herbs as a side dish.
We need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in order for our bodies to function properly. Eating a range of different fruits and vegetables can help ensure you get all the nutrients you need. And don’t worry if your local selection is limited, or you can’t get to the store regularly. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their freshest and are just as good for you as their fresh counterparts.