You know eating a healthy diet makes you feel better. You may have even noticed a few differences in your appearance, like shinier hair, clearer skin, or even stronger, faster-growing fingernails.
Might there be certain foods that are especially good at boosting your overall attractiveness, though? According to research, there really are—and the findings may surprise you!
1. Carrots Give You a Healthier Glow Than the Sun!
People with that golden glow tend to garner a few more glances from the opposite sex. To get that natural color, turns out you don’t have to risk your skin’s health by baking in the sun—foods that contain those naturally orange compounds known as “carotenoids” do a better “tanning” job for you!
Research from the University of Nottingham reported in 2011 that eating foods rich in carotenoids gives you a healthier glow than the sun does. Lead author Dr. Ian Stephen and colleagues used a tool called a “spectrophotometer” to measure changes in skin color caused by:
- levels of carotenoids in the blood
- levels of melanin levels in the skin—which increase after sun exposure and create pigment
He then created a computer program that allowed viewers to adjust either level to make themselves as attractive as possible. They all chose to increase carotenoid levels more than melanin levels.
Next, Dr. Stephen analyzed skin tones to determine whether the golden glow was due to carotenoid or melanin levels. Results showed:
- Overall, a healthy golden glow was associated with attractiveness.
- People who eat more fruits and veggies rich in carotenoids have a more golden skin color.
- Participants wanting their images to appear more attractive were more likely to adjust carotenoid levels than melanin levels—showing the golden glow from food was considered more attractive than sun-produced tans.
“We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids,” Dr. Stephen said, “people preferred the carotenoid skin color, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”
In addition to carrots, load up on these options for a healthy, golden glow this summer:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark, leafy greens
2. Papaya Makes You Look Less Wrinkled
Papaya and other foods high in vitamin C may help you appear less wrinkled. A 2007 study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to examine any associations between nutrient intakes and skin aging in over 4,000 women. Dermatologists actually examined skin, defining aging as having a wrinkled appearance, dryness, and skin atrophy.
Results showed that a higher intake of vitamin C was associated with a lower likelihood of having a wrinkled appearance. This was true regardless of the person’s age, race, or sunlight exposure. More specifically, just a one-unit increase in intake of vitamin C was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the odds of a wrinkled appearance, and a seven percent reduction in dryness.
In addition to papaya, try the following for a healthy dose of vitamin C:
- Chili peppers and yellow bell peppers
- Kale and other dark green leafy veggies
3. Green Beans Give You Strong, Silky Hair
Green beans are rich in a mineral called “silicon” (or “silica,” not to be confused with silicone, a synthetic compound) that is important for healthy cartilage, bones, skin, hair, and nails. It helps the body absorb calcium, and has shown in some studies to help lower the risk of osteoporosis. Silicon is also important in helping to strengthen connective tissues like collagen, which support hair strength and thickness.
According to NYU Langone Medical Center, silicon is “found in protein complexes that include glycosaminoglycans. These substances are essential for healthy bone, nails, hair and skin.” A 2007 study found that women with fine hair who took 10 mg of silicon a day had hair that was more elastic and less likely to break, and were more likely to have thicker hair than those who didn’t.
Supplement manufacturers market silicon pills as anti-aging wonders, but it’s always better to get nutrients from food. Try the following:
- Mineral water
- Bran cereal
- Brown rice
- Peanuts and almonds
- Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
Do you notice an improvement in your appearance when you eat right? Please share your tips.
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Ian D. Stephen, Vinet Coetzee, David I. Perrett. Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior, May 2010; 32(3):216-227, http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(10)00116-9/abstract.
Chris Arnot, “How vegetables can give you that golden glow,” The Guardian, February 7, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/feb/08/attractiveness-healthy-food.
Maeve C. Cosgrove, et al., “Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women,” Am J Clin Nutr, October 2007; 86(4): 1225-1231, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/1225.full.pdf+html.
“Silicon,” NYU Langone Medical Center, http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=111806.
Carlisle EM. Silicon as a trace nutrient. Sci Total Environ. 1989;73:95–106.
Wickett RR, et al. “Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair.” Arch Dermatol Res. 2007 Dec;299(10):499-505, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17960402?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed.