Even after the age of 25, hormones, excessive stress, clogged pores, bacteria, and medications can cause embarrassing acne. Clearing it up often includes dealing with stress, applying topical medications, and going inside the body to address it nutritionally.
There are a lot of foods that help support clear skin. These are nutrient-rich foods that are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium, as well as other skin-friendly compounds like vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, and manganese. These nutrients address clear skin both directly, by nourishing and protecting the skin, and indirectly, by helping create a healthier gut microbiome.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best clear skin diet, read through this list of the 12 best foods to eat for clear skin. At the end of this article, I’ll share some skin-friendly food combinations to help you get started.
Foods To Eat For Clear Skin
Sweet potatoes provide several vitamins and minerals that are great for the skin. Like most orange vegetables, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A. The retinoids and carotenoids in vitamin A are converted to retinol in the liver. Retinol stimulates the production of new skin cells and protects the eyes.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E. Vitamin C helps provide collagen, which helps the skin be tight, smooth, and unwrinkled. Vitamin E could help repair damage caused by UV rays from the sun and helps nourish the skin to protect it.
One cup of raw sweet potato cubes provides 105% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, 4% for vitamin C, and 2% for vitamin E. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber, which could help the skin by helping detoxify the digestive system.
Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable with a wide array of health benefits. It’s a low-carb, low-calorie food that contains prebiotic fiber. This is important because there’s a direct relation between gut health and skin health. Keeping the microbiome healthy could also help protect the skin.
A cup of raw spinach provides 16% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, 9% for vitamin C, and 121% for vitamin K. Vitamin K is interesting because vitamin K is often used in skin creams to help reduce swelling and bruising and help wounds in the skin heal. This vitamin also helps promote the production of collagen.
Other skin-friendly nutrients found in spinach include folate, which helps develop healthy skin cells, and manganese, which helps with collagen production.
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for improving cardiovascular health and helping some people lose weight, but they have other health benefits, too. Omega-3 fatty acids could help regulate the production of oil in the skin. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect skin from inflammation due to too much sun, and they help keep the skin hydrated.
Salmon also provides vitamin D, which has anti-microbial properties that could help fight acne. While we make most of our vitamin D in our skin from sun exposure, getting an extra boost in our diets can be helpful, too. One small salmon fillet provides 116% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D. Salmon is also a good source for vitamins E and A.
Like sweet potatoes, the pumpkin’s bright orange color indicates that it’s rich in vitamin A. One cup serving size of cooked, mashed pumpkin provides 120% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A. It also provides 22% for vitamin C, 16% for vitamin E, and 8% for vitamin K.
Pumpkin also contains zinc and potassium. Zinc could help fight acne, and potassium supports the growth of new skin cells. A cup of pumpkin provides 7% of the daily recommendation for zinc and 19% for potassium.
Raw pumpkin is also often used as a homemade face mask. Besides the vitamins and minerals described above, pumpkin contains fruit enzymes that help exfoliate the skin and minimize the look of fine wrinkles.
Avocado is a superfood packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help repair and protect the skin. A cup of avocado cubes provides 30% of the daily recommendation for folate, 17% for vitamin C, 14% for vitamin E, 26% for vitamin K, and 16% for potassium. It’s also a good source for some B vitamins and other minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Avocados are also rich in fiber and healthy fats. A one-cup serving size provides 36% of the daily recommendation for fiber, which can boost skin health by helping detoxify the gut. Avocados also contain a significant amount of healthy fat oleic acid. Oleic acid has several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and protecting the eyes. Where the skin is concerned, it promotes the production of new healthy skin cells, aids in wound healing, and helps synthesize collagen.
Yogurt has often been used as a homemade topical face mask for the skin. It helps moisturize the skin, and the lactic acid in it helps tighten the pores and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It has benefits for the skin when it’s taken internally, as well. One of the biggest benefits that yogurt can offer for the skin is its ability to help keep the gut microbiome healthy. Yogurt is also rich in several vitamins and minerals that aid the skin. A seven-ounce serving of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt provides 20% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, 6% for folate, 6% for potassium, and 11% for zinc.
Yogurt is also rich in selenium, a mineral with strong antioxidant properties that can help fight skin aging. A serving of Greek yogurt provides 45% of the daily recommendation for selenium.
Kale is a green, leafy vegetable in the cabbage family. As a cruciferous vegetable, kale is rich in a compound called sulforaphane, which has a strong antioxidant effect. This can protect your skin. At the same time, sulforaphane has a detoxifying effect that can help flush toxins away from the skin, helping keep your skin clear.
Besides sulforaphane, kale is loaded with other skin-friendly vitamins and minerals. A cup of fresh kale provides 6% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, 22% for vitamin C, 68 for vitamin K, and it’s a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
Brazil nuts are one of the best food sources of selenium. A one-ounce serving of Brazil nuts provides 988% of the daily recommendation for selenium. Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, folate, the B vitamin thiamin.
Thiamin is interesting because, when it’s applied topically, it can ease redness and irritation and aid in clear, healthy skin for people with dry skin or people prone to acne. When thiamin is taken internally, it boosts collagen production and skin revitalization.
Brazil nuts are rich in fiber, too, and that could help keep skin clear by supporting a healthy gut microbiome. An ounce of Brazil nuts provides 8% of the daily recommendation for fiber.
Like sweet potatoes and pumpkin, apricots have orange flesh that indicates they’re rich in fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and E. One apricot provides 4% of the daily recommendation for vitamins A and C. It’s also a good source of several B vitamins, folate, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Many of these nutrients work together to boost collagen production and keep the skin healthy.
Apricots have a relatively high water content, which makes them a great food choice for helping keep skin hydrated. Using apricot oil as a topical skin treatment is associated with clear, supple skin.
Garlic has many health benefits, and the ability to help clear up acne is one of them. One compound in garlic, called allicin, is known to have antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties which help keep the skin clear. It also increases blood flow throughout the body, including to the skin, so impurities can be carried away before they can cause acne, and so that the skin can be nourished.
Some home remedies recommend rubbing raw garlic on pimples or acne to clear up infections. When taking it internally, garlic can be used as a spice in soups, meat dishes, or sides. It can also be taken as a capsule.
Like kale, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains sulforaphane. Sulforaphane benefits the gut microbiome, which in turn positively affects the skin. It also has a direct impact on the skin by providing strong antioxidant properties and flushing away toxins.
Besides sulforaphane, broccoli is rich in several nutrients that promote clear skin. It has decent water content, along with 9% of the daily recommendation for fiber in a one-cup serving.
A cup of raw broccoli also provides 3% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, 5% for thiamin, 14% for folate, 90% for vitamin C, 3% for vitamin E, and 77% for vitamin K. It’s a decent source of several skin-supporting minerals, as well.
Blueberries are a nutrient-dense food with anti-inflammatory properties that could help fight acne and aging. Blueberries are rich in pectin, which could help treat acne by keeping the gut microbiome healthy.
Blueberries are extremely rich in antioxidants, too. This includes vitamin C, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A cup of fresh blueberries provides around 16% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C, as well as 24% for vitamin K and 22% for manganese.
One interesting thing that the nutrients in blueberries can do is help keep a healthy blood flow to the facial skin, fighting acne, and keeping the capillaries under the skin healthy. This could help prevent the development of spider veins below the skin, so skin remains clear and creamy-looking.
Three Skin-Friendly Food Combinations To Try Now
Now that you’ve read through the 12 best foods to eat for clear skin, let’s talk about some fun food combinations for clearing up skin naturally. These food combinations are packed with nutrients that address skin health both directly and indirectly.
Foof Combination #1: Yogurt With Blueberries
Mix a cup of fresh blueberries into a small container of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt. You’ll get the deep antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that help clear up skin from the inside, as well as addressing the gut microbiome to ensure that skin stays healthy and clear.
Foof Combination #2: Apricots And Brazil Nuts
Pair dried or fresh apricots with a handful of Brazil nuts for a powerful boost of selenium and fat-soluble vitamins. Just don’t eat too many of the nuts—a serving size of 6 nut kernels provides the daily recommendation for selenium nearly ten times over.
Foof Combination #3: Salmon, Spinach, And Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serve a small steamed salmon fillet with a side of fresh spinach and baked sweet potatoes. This fiber-rich, light meal provides omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to help increase gut health and help clear up skin from the inside out.