Collagen is one of those hot topics making its way through beauty blogs, in salons, and you may have even seen packages of collagen on the shelves of your local grocery store. Why is this natural compound busting doors in the health world? Turns out collagen is not only great for your bones, joints, and organ health, but it may also be one of the best weapons we have against the physical signs of aging in our skin!
First off, what is collagen? Collagen, also called a complex protein, is a conglomeration of 19 different essential and nonessential amino acids including some rarer nonessential (or conditional) types such as “arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline.” In simpler terms, “collagen is the main protein of all connective tissue,” the tissue that binds your body together such as “fascia tissue, dermis (the bottom layer of your skin), muscles, tendons, cartilage and the tissue surrounding your hair and nails.” Collagen actually comprises around “one-third of a healthy [human] body,” making up about “70 [percent] of the protein in our skin.”
How does collagen keep our body’s tissues healthy and fight the physical signs of aging?
Along with holding our bones and muscles together, protecting our organs, and providing structure for our joints and tendons, collagen plays a main role in our skin’s elasticity. As we age the natural production of collagen slows down, meaning we have less of this wonderful protein keeping our skin taut and thick. Hence, more wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. Therefore, as we age, it’s important to find natural sources of high-grade collagen in order to keep our bones, tissues, and organs healthy, as well as help keep our skin strong and thick!
Luckily, there are many plant-based sources of vitamins and minerals that promote collagen production! This includes vitamin C — helps to promote the proper manufacturing of collagen — zinc — activates proteins that are essential for making collagen — manganese — increases “production of collagen and elastin by increasing the enzyme responsible for proline formation” — vitamin A — stimulates the production of collagen — and copper — upregulates collagen and elastin “meaning it increases either the production or utilization of collagen and elastin, as well as helps facilitate creating the fibril structure of these collagens.”
Here are 15 plant-based recipes from the Food Monster App that are rich in these collagen boosting compounds!
Source: Healthy Chili
Hot chili peppers, such as used in this Healthy Chili recipe by Wendy Irene, are an oftentimes overlooked rich source of collagen-boosting vitamin C. For instance, a single green chili pepper “contains 109 mg of vitamin C,” while a single red chili pepper has around 65 milligrams. On top of their high vitamin C content, chili pepper’s are also known as a natural pain and inflammation reducer, as well as a fat burner, due to capsaicin, the compound that makes them spicy! This recipe is loaded with both green and red chili peppers, as well as an array of veggies, — such as butternut squash, zucchini, and onion, protein-rich beans, — healthy fats, — such as olive oil — and herbs and spices including thyme (another source of vitamin C!) and chipotle powder for an additional kick of heat!
Butternut squash is one of those essential plant-based ingredients. It’s sweet and nutty flavor makes it a great option for those looking to wean themselves off of sugar-rich foods, plus it’s one of the richest sources of collagen-promoting vitamin A. One cup of cooked butternut squash offers up over 22,000 international units of vitamin A. This 7-Ingredient Butternut Squash Soup recipe by Marina Yanay-Triner calls for an entire butternut squash, which is equal to about five to six cups! With a sweet kick of lime and Medjool date, balanced by a savory dash of tamari sauce and veggie broth, this is the perfect collagen-inspiring meal to prep for the week!
3. Toasted Turmeric Milk Oat and Teff Porridge
You may not think much about manganese, yet this mineral is an essential component in the production of collagen. Teff is not only a great source of manganese, — one cup of cooked teff has 7.2 milligrams of manganese — but it’s also one of the best gluten-free “grain” alternatives. This Toasted Turmeric Milk Oat and Teff Porridge by Courtney West is a complementary gluten-free alternative to traditional morning porridges with manganese-rich teff, stomach-soothing ginger, inflammation-fighting turmeric, and a dash of naturally sweet maple syrup.
Source: Lentil Cauliflower Sloppy Joes
These Lentil Cauliflower Sloppy Joes by Alison Edmund are loaded with legumes, which happen to be a great source of collagen-boosting zinc! Lentils are a great meatless recipe substitute for plant-based eaters, plus they are loaded with protein and fiber. This recipe calls on heart-healthy buckwheat and antioxidant-rich cauliflower as a binder to make these sloppy joes a little less sloppy and even more delicious!
Source: Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes
Are you forever seeking that healthy, superfood dessert? These Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes by Cruelty Free Family may just fit the bill for you! Plus, this recipe calls for a unique superfood ingredient called spirulina, which also happens to be rich in copper with a single tablespoon offering up 44 percent of your recommended daily intake.
Source: Raw Kale Salad
This Raw Kale Salad by Julia Winnicki is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie, inflammation-fighting, and collagen-boosting option for a light yet filling mid-day pick me up! Kale falls into the superfood category due to its broad spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals including collagen-producing vitamin C. Yet, cooking kale reduces the potency of its vitamin C content, which makes this salad the best of all worlds! A single cup of chopped raw kale “provides 80 mg of vitamin C,” and this recipe calls for two whole cups!
Source: Carrot Cookies
Whoever said you couldn’t have your cookies and eat carrots too? This Carrot Cookies recipe by Tara Binder intertwines a little carrot cake-based wisdom into a traditional spice-based cookie. Carrots are another rich source of vitamin A with one medium-sized stalk offering a whopping “10,190 international units” of the collagen-boosting vitamin. This recipe is also a great source of omega-fat filled walnuts, fiber-filled flaxseed, and digestive-friendly cloves!
Source: Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait
This delicious Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait by Jana Kastner is not only vegan, gluten-free, and starch-free, but it’s also free of any processed sugar! Plus, hazelnuts are an excellent plant-based source of manganese with one ounce offering up 1.5 milligrams. This parfait is naturally sweetened with your choice of dates, thickened with healthy-fat filled coconut oil, and includes a large dose of adaptogenic raw cacao powder.
Source: Cashew Cheese
While almost all nuts offer small amounts of collagen-producing zinc, cashews are one of the richest-sources with one ounce containing “14 percent of a man’s daily recommended intake”. This Cashew Cheese recipe by Molly Patrick uses one cup of cashews, along with vitamin C-rich and collagen-boosting lemon juice.
This hearty Rutabaga Carbonara with Shiitake Mushroom Bacon recipe by Phoebe Douglas offers up a healthy dose of collagen-boosting copper-rich shiitake mushrooms! One cup of shiitake mushrooms offers up 1.3 milligrams of copper. This recipe also features a flavorful palate of tahini, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and a dash of sweet maple syrup.
Source: Raw Coconut Lemon Bombs
Want a little sweet treat that also boosts collagen production? Look no further than these Raw Coconut Lemon Bombs by Julia West. Lemons are not only a great source of collagen-boosting vitamin C — a single raw lemon, including the peel, “provides 83 mg of vitamin C” — but lemons are also rich in antioxidants and can help your body absorb other nutrients. These simple flavor bombs are super easy to make and use healthy fat-rich cashews, naturally sweet Medjool dates, and ask for the juice of an entire lemon, making sure you get a healthy dose of vitamin C!
Source: Broccoli Pepper Curry
This Broccoli Pepper Curry by Phoebe Douglas packs a punch of collagen-boosting vitamins and minerals! Along with vitamin A rich broccoli — one cooked cup of broccoli provides 1860 international units — this recipe also calls for a dose of vitamin C-rich red chili pepper — a single red chili pepper has around 65 milligrams of vitamin C. Pulling from traditional curry flavoring, this recipe also calls for creamy coconut milk and the earthy, warm complementary tastes of coriander, cumin, and bay leaves.
Source: Basil Coconut Brown Rice
Brown rice is one of the most versatile gluten-free plant-based foods to stock in your pantry. Plus, it’s one of the richest sources of collagen-boosting manganese with one cup of cooked brown rice offering 2.1 milligrams. For your daily dose of manganese, whip up this Basil Coconut Brown Rice by Crissy Cavanaugh which asks for two cups of brown rice, as well as heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, creamy coconut milk, and a host of collagen boosting ingredients including butternut squash (vitamin C-rich), thyme (vitamin C-rich), and macadamia nuts (manganese-rich).
Source: Kale, Quinoa, and Radish Salad
This Kale, Quinoa, and Radish Salad by Rosie Daykin is a powerhouse of collagen-boosting ingredients! Along with vitamin C-rich kale and lemon juice, this salad features a half cup of nutrient-dense quinoa. When it comes to collagen-boosting minerals, one cup of cooked quinoa offers 2 milligrams of zinc!
Many dark leafy greens provide rich sources of collagen-boosting compounds such as vitamin C, zinc, and, in the case of swiss chard, copper. In fact, one cup of cooked swiss chard has 33 percent of your recommended daily intake of copper. These Swiss Chard and Almond Ricotta Spelt Galettes by Rebekah Waters are a great way to get that daily dose of copper, along with a host of other nutritious plant-based ingredients such as healthy fat-rich almonds, macadamia nuts, and olive oil, vitamin C-rich lemon juice, and nutrient-dense kale, to name just a few ingredients in this packed recipe!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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