Collagen production for healthy skin is a hot topic right now in the beauty industry. Collagen is designed to provide protection from environmental toxins and invaders that harm the skin. It also supports the strength of skin by improving the look of fine lines and reducing wrinkles.
Commercialized products that contain collagen largely come from animal-based sources (such as gelatin), but our bodies can produce enough on their own without having to take supplements of any kind if we give it the nutrients it needs. Certain healthy raw, natural foods can help our bodies produce substantial amounts of collagen that keep us not just looking healthy, but also keep our skin strong so it can protect us.
Healthy Fats for Healthy Skin and Collagen Production
It’s crucial to eat foods that are full of natural enzymes, such as raw, unprocessed plant-based fats. Healthy fats do a number of things for our body, and plant-based foods are full of all the good ones in their natural state. Animal foods have to go through so much processing to even be eaten in a safe way, while raw plant-based fats don’t. Which do you think your body prefers? Raw nuts and seeds are two foods that can help your body produce more collagen, not just for their healthy fats, but also due to specific minerals they have.
Specific Nutrients That Support Collagen Production
Copper, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are some of the best that support healthy skin and collagen production. Below are some nuts and seeds that are high in these nutrients that you can work into your meals and snacks. You needn’t eat them all every day; just rotate them throughout the week for best results.
Almonds are a near perfect food for your skin. They’re packed with protein that supports collagen production, and full of healthy monounsaturated fats, copper, zinc, vitamin B1, B5, B6, calcium, and vitamin E. They’re also a good source of magnesium, which can support your nervous system. Anxiety and stress can wreak havoc on your skin, making it important to eat foods that are calming to the body, like almonds. Always choose raw almonds over roasted for the best benefits. Sprouted raw almonds or raw almond butter are also great options. Use a tablespoon or two of the butter per day or 1/4 cup raw almonds.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are great sources of zinc, Vitamin B1, magnesium, and protein. They’re also full of iron and copper which support blood flow and prevent the breakdown of collagen. Make a raw sunflower seed butter for your sprouted grain toast, in a smoothie, to use in oatmeal, or you can use raw sunflower seeds anywhere you like, such as Sunflower Seed Butter Oatmeal Cookies.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are one of the best foods to support healthy skin and digestion. For one, they’re fairly low in fat per serving (around 5 grams per 2 tablespoons) so they’re not heavier like some nuts can be on your stomach. However, they’re one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fats you can eat that rivals any tuna or salmon recipe out there. Plus, chia seeds are also very filling due to their high soluble fiber content. Chia’s gelling effect isn’t just helpful for baking; it’s also great for plumping up your skin to keep it supple and wrinkle-free. One other benefit of chia is that due its large amount of minerals and B vitamins, it also can help your hair and nails grow.Chia seeds contain more iron per serving than meat, not to mention more zinc, calcium and magnesium than any animal-based food.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are nearly as close to perfection as you can possibly get (outside of chia seeds!) in terms of overall nutrition and benefits. Slightly sweet, these little gems are great for your beauty routine. They’re alkalizing to prevent and reduce inflammation, they contain a whopping dose of zinc to reduce fine lines, acne and strengthen your immune system to fight off invaders and free radicals that disrupt healthy collagen production. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of iron, magnesium, and contain more protein than an egg per 1/4 cup. Enjoy them raw whenever possible and sneak them in wherever you can.
Sesame seed butter, known as tahini, is a phenomenal food. But it’s made for much more than culinary delight. Tahini is incredible for your skin because it contains calcium, zinc, protein, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, specifically vitamin B1 (thiamin) which prevents thiamin deficiency that can cause poor skin, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Tahini is also a good source of copper, which reduces fine lines, assists with collagen production, and reduces inflammation. Use raw organic tahini when possible, which is less inflammatory than roasted varieties, (and a little sweeter too!).
Did you know that chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C? They have a whopping 30 percent of the RDA in just 1/4 cup! Vitamin C prevents the breakdown of collagen which supports healthy skin and also improves immune system function. You can order them online if they’re not in season or scout your natural health food store while they are in season (November and December). Avoid those with added oils and go for the plain roasted variety, which are a little sweet (and nutty too). They taste somewhat similar to chickpeas, are fat-free and are very easy to digest. Chestnuts are also a good source of B vitamins like vitamin B1.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fats, vitamin E, B vitamins and zinc. They’re one of the best inexpensive beauty (and brain) foods we can eat. Enjoy walnuts with your morning breakfast, as a snack, or add them to entrees. Walnuts also can help balance your blood sugar, which supports insulin function. Insulin spikes can cause your skin to suffer since they can lead to acne and stress that weakens collagen production.
Though technically a fruit, coconut acts like a nut in many recipes and contains many beneficial fats like nuts do. A true beauty, body and brain food, coconut should be in your diet (unless of course, you’re allergic). Coconut’s medium-chain tryglyceride fats promote a healthy liver; they do not contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels; and they also support the skin by warding off harmful bacteria. The fats in coconut also enhance digestion due to its fiber and fats, and help add healing properties for the digestive tract by reducing inflammation. Coconut is also a surprisingly good source of protein and certain B vitamins that support collagen function. Enjoy coconut flour, coconut butter, and raw coconut shreds if you’re avoiding oil, or if you tolerate coconut oil well, feel free to experiment with it or use it as a beauty aid.
9. Hemp Seeds
What can’t this seed do? Full of more protein than meat per ounce, more magnesium, a hefty dose of fiber, chlorophyll, vitamin E and iron, hemp seeds are an incredibly healthy food that your skin will love! The hemp seed is a plant-based powerhouse in terms of nutrition and provide all the right nutrients to support healthy skin. Use hemp seeds in smoothies, raw cookies and bars, creative sauces and soups, or enjoy them as a raw topping anywhere you please.
10. Flax Seeds
Packed with fiber, omega-3 fats, vitamin E and B vitamins, flax is another must-have for your beauty routine. They’re also one of the best sources of plant-based fiber and can promote healthy digestion. They should be enjoyed ground (preferably cold-milled) for the most benefits. Be sure you store them in the fridge in a dark container (like a dark-colored mason jar or BPA-free container) so the light and heat won’t cause them to go rancid.
Most any nut and seed will provide healthy fats that support your skin, so don’t leave out others like pecans, pistachios or the beloved cashews if you enjoy them. Overall, the above nuts and seeds provide the most skin-heavy benefits of all and work best in a diet rich in nutrient-dense greens, vegetables, and low-glycemic foods.
Take care of your skin by enjoying these raw, healthy, and simple foods. What could be easier (or more beautiful) than that?
Lead Image Source: Diane Arnt/Flickr