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Dermatologists Swear By These 11 Winter Foods for Healthy, Radiant Skin

You can load up on lotions, but healthy skin starts with the food you put in your body. Here, the seasonal eats dermatologists reach for to keep their skin glowing all winter long.

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Carrots

The same substance that makes carrots good for your eyes—the antioxidant beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, also makes it good for your skin. “Once ingested, beta carotene is converted by our body into vitamin A, which is active in helping with vision, immunity, and skin health,” explains board certified dermatologist Kenneth Howe, MD, of Wexler Dermatology. Carrots also contain lycopene, which—in addition to beta carotene—may shield skin against UV damage. Researchers found that more beta-carotene was absorbed from cooked than raw carrots, so consider steaming, blanching, or roasting your carrot sticks.

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Kale

Because it’s able to tolerate frost, fresh kale is readily available throughout the winter. This leafy green is a powerhouse of skin-friendly nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin K (all you need for a whole day in one serving), and vitamin C, plus the essential minerals potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Its high sulfur content can help reduce skin redness and flakiness. Vitamin C is the real star here, though: It strengthens collagen fibers, those long strands of protein that hold our skin cells together, for firmer skin. A single cup of raw kale provides 100 percent of the RDA of vitamin C for women. These superfood veggies could be the next kale.

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Butternut squash

This fall vegetable is rich in skin-friendly beta carotene (pre-vitamin A), which the body uses to produce the sebum that keeps skin and hair hydrated. It also supplies a good deal of vitamin C, which we know is key to building and maintaining collagen, plus potassium, and fiber. Looking for some seasonal cooking inspiration? Check out these mouthwatering butternut squash recipes.

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Broccoli

This cruciferous vegetable is a natural source of glucoraphanin, which is known for its skin regenerative properties. It also boasts collagen-building vitamin C as well as vitamin E, which protects against cellular damage, and vitamin B, which gives skin that enviable glow. Broccoli also happens to be a potent food that fights cancer.

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Matcha

Matcha, a fine powder made of milled green tea leaves, is an amazing antioxidant. “Catechins are the key polyphenolic compounds found in green tea,” Dr. Howe says. “Since green tea is made by drying and steaming fresh tea leaves, no oxidation takes place, which results in high levels of catechins.” Drinking matcha tea delivers antioxidants that help protects against environmental aggressors, from UV rays to pollution. The fine powder can also be incorporated into face masks and topical creams.

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Spinach

Spinach is considered a superfood for good reason. “In addition to its nutritional value, spinach has health-promoting and disease-preventing properties,” says Dr. Howe. It’s not only rich in antioxidants and iron, but it’s also a good source of folate—a B vitamin that promotes cellular repair and can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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Salmon

Salmon is another all-around superfood with proven skin benefits. “Salmon provides omega-3 fatty acids that keep your complexion supple and moisturized,” Dr. Howe says. It’s also a good source of selenium, which helps protect the skin against oxidative damage, improves elasticity, and reduces inflammation, which is especially beneficial for those struggling with acne. If you have complexion trouble, try these home remedies for acne.

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Cherries

Cherries contain vitamin C and anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. “The amount of anthocyanin increases exponentially as the fruit ripens,” Dr. Howe says. “The darker the hue, the more antioxidants.” In the mood for something sweet? Try this healthy, chocolate cherry pudding recipe.

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Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of skin-boosting zinc, iron, folic acid, and vitamin E. Zinc is beneficial for blemish-prone complexions, and vitamin E nourishes skin from the inside, helping to protect against free radical damage and promote cellular regeneration.

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Chia seeds

Chia seeds provide two essential fatty acids: omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and omega-6 linolenic acid. Both omega-3 and 6 have anti-inflammatory powers, which may help boost skin regeneration and contribute to a more youthful complexion. “Your body requires essential fatty acids for good health, but it doesn’t produce them, so they must be consumed,” explains Dr. Howe.

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Dark hot chocolate

Cacao, a minimally processed powder made of unroasted cacao (chocolate) beans, is another natural source of skin-nourishing antioxidants. Cacao, which, unlike processed chocolate retains its antioxidants, has been shown to have positive effects on photo-aging. According to recent study, Korean women ages 43 to 86 who consumed a high-flavanol cocoa beverage every day for six months saw improvement in wrinkles and elasticity.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn has a B.A. in Creative Writing & Communications from the University of Miami. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Brides, Fodor's, Travel + Leisure, PureWow, USA Today, and more.