Skip The Tan & Eat Your Veggies For Beautiful Skin Color

It’s just been scientifically proven: A veggie and fruit diet gives you a better looking skin color that a sun tan. As a dermatologist and nutrition advocate, I’m thrilled!

You actually do look more beautiful to other people when your skin has the golden glow that comes from eating fruits and veggies. People find that color more appealing than the brown color that comes from a sun tan.

I’ve thought this for years and now it’s fact; in a scientific study, volunteers rated the golden skin of veggie eaters as more beautiful than the brown skin of sun tanners — and you can get your own ‘golden glow’ in as little as a month.

The take home message: If you want to look great, skip the sun tan and instead tank up on fruits and veggies!

Here’s the details:

Dr. Ian Stephen, an experimental psychologist at the University of Bristol in England, did a study where he showed volunteers a series of photographs of both men and women. Some were sun-tanned and others were on a prescribed fruit and veggie diet that was high in beta carotene. He asked the volunteers to rate the attractiveness of the people’s skin tone. The volunteers consistently preferred the skin tone of those people who were eating the fruit and veggie diet over the tone from people who were sun tanned.

To understand this, you need to know that skin color is produced by one of two skin pigments: melanin or beta carotene. Your skin’s melanin content is partly determined by your genes, but it also increases with sun exposure. Beta carotene is a yellow/orange pigment that you only get if you eat it. Foods with lots of beta carotene include certain fruits and veggies like carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe, and some green leafy veggies.

Beta carotene imparts warmth to skin color. Of course this shows up more in really fair-skinned people (Fitzpatrick skin types 1 to 3), but in my experience, even people with darker skin (Fitzpatrick 4 to 6) can warm up their skin color with a healthy diet. I’m a fair Fitz type 2 and I’ve always preferred my skin with the warmth of beta carotene instead of my natural color (a pasty and transparent blueish white). I eat a ton of veggies, which I’ve talked about in past blog posts. Now I’m going to make sure to always include the fruits and veggies with lots of beta carotene; heart attack, stroke, cancer, arthritis and weight control were motivating, but skin tone and beauty are real kickers! It’s undeniable, we are what we eat and everybody can see it in our skin.

Foods High In Beta Carotene

Good food sources of beta-carotene include:

  • Yellow/orange vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash
  • Dark green and/or leafy vegetables: kale, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, turnips and their green leaves, beet leaves, mustard and dandelion greens, watercress, cilantro, chicory, endive, escarole
  • Yellow/orange fruits: apricots, cantaloupes, papayas, mangoes, nectarines, peaches
  • Other good vegetable and fruit sources – summer squash, asparagus, peas, sour cherries, prune plums.

My advice to help you get get the most beta carotene out of your foods:

  • Eat them with a little fat or oil because you’ll absorb beta carotene better with a little fat in your digestive tract.
  • Chopped or juiced foods release more beta carotene than large chunks of food (carrot juice is a great source of beta carotene)
  • Eating your fruits and veggies really fresh is key, because beta carotene is fragile and gets lost when the fruits or veggies are processed or stored

To Sum It Up: You can get a great skin color without the wrinkles, liver spots and premature skin aging that comes from sun tanning. Instead, eat fruits and veggies that are high in beta carotene for the best skin color of all…..

Skip the sun, have a salad, and look fabulous forever!


Timesonline, May 23, 2010

Facial Skin Coloration Affects Perceived Health of Human Faces, Stephen ID, et. al., Int J Primatol, 2009 Dec;30(6):845-857.

If You Found This Post Interesting, You May Want To Look At:

The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet-A Dietary Magic Wand For Overall Health And Beauty

Are You Really Getting Vitamin D From The Sun Or Just Nuking Your DNA?

Use Self Tanners Like A Pro

Photo: Pink Sherbet

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2 Responses to “Skip The Tan & Eat Your Veggies For Beautiful Skin Color”

  1. Cos-crackie June 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    Just discovered this blog and am loving it (and adding to my blogroll). Cynthia, this post is a fabulous one for people like me: former tanorexics obsessed with having “good color” who unfortunately neglect diet. Thank you for yet another push away from the tanning bed and toward the salad.

    How do you incorporate healthful eating into a packed schedule (which I assume you must have, dooing what you do). I, and I’m sure your other readers, would love some tips.

  2. Cynthia June 17, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Leftovers! I eat leftovers between breakfast and dinner. My husband and I take turns preparing dinner, we cook healthy meals sufficient for an army, and I eat them during my work days. They aren’t fancy. Like this week its baked spaghetti squash with a little onion sauteed in olive oil, sauteed kale with onion, baked potatoes (about 10 are in the fridge right now) and fruit salad or lettuce with olive oil. If I don’t have leftovers, I make a quick salad with lettuce, goat cheese and chicken (we roast one every week). I put olive oil and fresh lemon juice on the bottom of the container and shake up the entire thing when I’m ready to eat.

    I satisfy my cravings with organic high cocoa chocolate bars, meringue cookies and rice cakes with organic peanut butter (all of which I keep at the office for ‘emergencies’). I’ve been a ‘brown bagger’ my entire adult life because it gives me control over what I eat. I work 5 days a week and it also helps that I’m too busy to buy lunch or snacks during the work day.

    Thanks for a fun question!
    Cheers, Cynthia Bailey MD