We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy…and that most of us should probably consume more than we do. Interestingly a new study takes this even further finding that eating more from this food group can actually change your appearance in as little as 6 weeks. The key to this change is the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that give the fruit and vegetables colour can also help give us colour as well.
The study revealed that fewer than four portions a day (1 piece of fruit or half a cup of vegetables equals one serve) increased skin redness and yellowness both of which are associated with the perception of increased attractiveness and improved health. In particular it is the carotenoids which are the yellow, orange and red pigments in plant foods that actually cause these perceptible changes in our skin colour and tone.
In addition to changing skin tone carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that improve many aspects of skin health by reducing oxidative stress. These benefits include the reduction in UV light sensitivity and therefore long term sun damage. Eaten in high enough quantities, carotenoids can promote a healthy glow that rivals a tan!
Plant foods that are rich in carotenoids include carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens and red capsicum. Dark green vegetables are included as they contain carotenoids (yellow) and chlorophyll (green) so overall appear green. As always the message is Eat Your Greens…and Yellows and Oranges and Reds!
1. Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, Ozakinci G, Perrett DI. You are what you eat: within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32988.
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