Skip The Tan & Eat Your Veggies For Beautiful Skin Color

Cynthia Bailey, MD|June 14, 2010

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!

References: 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