At this time of year, when my skin is as dry as dust, as flaky as shredded wheat, and as supple as wood, I’m always on the lookout for foods that boost skin health. Lucky for me, a standout food that promotes healthy skin is also one of my favorite fruits: avocado.
In a recent study at UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, researchers concluded that daily avocado consumption could lead to improved elasticity and firmness in the facial skin of healthy individuals.
According to Zhaoping Li, Ph.D., chief of clinical nutrition at UCLA, the study showed that the best approach to young and vibrant skin is not just topicals, but improving your whole diet with foods such as avocados. “When you take care of your entire body with proper nutrition, then your skin is going to reflect that,” Li said.
So what makes this buttery, creamy fruit your skin’s best friend?
As its taste and texture suggest, avocados are rich in fat. But, thankfully, the majority is monounsaturated fat, the good kind that doesn’t increase blood cholesterol. This healthy fat helps to moisturize and soften skin, as well as increase elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. One study of over 700 women concluded that a high intake of fat—especially monounsaturated fat—was linked to more supple, springy skin.
Avocados teem with two skin-preserving vitamins: vitamin C and vitamin E. Both are powerful antioxidants that help protect skin cells from damage caused by environmental stressors, like sunlight, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. What this could mean for us avocado-aficionados—in the best-case scenario—is skin that defies aging and disease. Go, avo!
Lastly, this “alligator pear” contains lutein, another kind of antioxidant that protects against UV damage. Studies have shown that, when present in sufficient quantities in the skin, lutein helps to filter high-energy wavelengths of light. The result may be protection against sunburn, signs of aging, and skin cancer.
One cup of sliced avocado has 230 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 21 grams of fat, (15 grams is monounsaturated), and impressive amounts of vitamin K and folate, two more vitamins with anti-aging benefits.
Avocado Cucumber Tomato Salad
Adapted from wellplated.com Serves 6
For the salad:
1 large English cucumber, sliced or diced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium avocados, sliced or diced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (or dill)
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (2 small limes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: lime juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper.
In a large bowl, place the cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, avocado, half of the feta, and cilantro. Pour the dressing over the top, then gently stir to combine. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top. Enjoy immediately or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 hours (stir just before serving).
Ready-to-eat avocados should dent when slightly squeezed. If hard, place in direct sunlight or in a sealed paper bag to speed ripening. Once ripe, they can be refrigerated for up to a week. Avocados quickly turn brown once exposed to air. Although unappetizing to see, the brown flesh is perfectly safe to eat. To slow or reduce browning, try these tips: cover the flesh with lemon or lime juice or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at email@example.com.