The Best and Worst Snacks For Your Skin
The saying “you are what you eat” couldn’t be more true, especially when it comes to your skin…
The food that you put into your body has a direct effect on the health and appearance of your skin. While certain foods will give your complexion a radiant glow, others can cause everything from acne to blemishes to dry patches.
Many people try hard to keep their main meals relatively healthy, but often fall short when it comes to snacking throughout the day.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to stop snacking! All you need to do is replace those unhealthy snacks with skin-boosting alternatives…
Stay Away From: Chips and Fried Foods
There is no denying how convenient it can be to reach for a bag of chips whenever you are feeling slightly peckish. With so many tempting new flavors constantly being released, it can be hard to resist the temptation, especially when you are craving a crunch.
However, chips, along with other fried foods, will not do your skin any favors…
These foods have usually been fried in a refined vegetable oil, which are known to be high in omega-6 fatty acids but low in omega-3 fatty acids.
You are probably thinking…
Aren’t omega-6 fatty acids still good for the skin?
Yes, but only when they are available in the right ratio with omega-3 fatty acids. Having too much of one and not enough of the other results in inflammation within the skin, which manifests as redness, swelling, acne and more.
Let’s not also forget that vegetable oils quickly oxidize when they reach a high temperature. This then leads to the formation of free radicals, which causes everything from accelerated skin aging to dark spots and DNA damage.
Reach For: Baked Chips or Nuts
Chips themselves aren’t strictly unhealthy, it’s just the way that they are usually cooked.
Fortunately, there are still ways in which you can enjoy chips, but in a healthy way…
Try baked chips instead, which you can easily make yourself at home.
You have two main options when it comes to ingredients for baked chips:
- Root Vegetables – such as sweet potato, beets and carrots
- Leafy Greens – such as kale, Brussel sprouts and collard greens
Simply slice them thinly, drizzle them with some extra virgin olive oil, and then bake at a low temperature until crispy.
If you don’t have time to bake yourself some chips, nuts are a great alternative…
Not only do they give you that crunch, but they are also packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals, as well as plenty of fiber to keep you feeling full.
Just about every type of nut would benefit your skin in some way, but the best ones to snack on would be:
- Walnuts – contain a great balance of skin-moisturizing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with anti-aging B vitamins and powerful anti-inflammatory properties
- Almonds – a great source of proteins and fatty acids, along with a high amount of vitamin E, which works as a potent antioxidant when it comes to healing and protecting the skin
- Cashews – packed with selenium and vitamin E, as well as zinc, which makes them great for renewing the skin while preventing acne breakouts
Stay Away From: Milk or White Chocolate Bars
You probably already know that the majority of chocolate bars out there are packed with sugar.
While the overall health impacts of eating too much sugar are well-known, many people don’t realize just how much the sugar that they are consuming is directly harming their skin.
When sugar enters the body, it triggers a process called glycation. This then ends up damaging the collagen and elastin in your body, which is when the problems really begin…
Both collagen and elastin are the main structural proteins that give your skin its smoothness, firmness and volume. Without them, everything from fine lines and wrinkles to sagging skin become much more prevalent.
The skin naturally produces collagen and elastin, but the rate at which it does so declines significantly with age. This makes it important to preserve the collagen and elastin that you do have and try to increase your skin’s production of it, rather than destroy it even further through your diet.
Sugar is also responsible for damaging the body’s intestinal lining. This interference with gut health can trigger more skin conditions, such as:
Don’t worry, you don’t have to completely give up chocolate…
Reach For: Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is actually really good for you.
The pure cocoa solids within it are packed with a compound known as flavonols, which are a polyphenol.
What are polyphenols?
A group of powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body, protecting your skin cells from damage.
Dark chocolate is also a fantastic source of other nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
In addition to protecting the skin, it also provides nourishment and strength, giving your skin a gorgeous glow from within.
Some may find dark chocolate a little too strong at first, but your taste buds will soon adjust. Just make sure that the chocolate you go for contains at least 70% cocoa content.
Stay Away From: Dairy Products
Whether you add milk to your tea or coffee, or enjoy a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, dairy foods are another snack that are not doing your skin any favors.
What’s wrong with dairy?
A number of things, such as:
- It promotes inflammation – this will trigger flare-ups in inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne and eczema
- It contains growth hormones – the growth hormones, as well as the antibiotics, in dairy products interfere with the body’s hormones, causing excess estrogen to be present. This has been linked to acne, as well as other health issues
- Causes sensitivities – it is estimated that around 75% of people around the world are intolerant to dairy. Continuously eating something that you are intolerant to weakens the gut, triggering inflammation and everything from acne to eczema. Poor gut health leads to poor skin health in general
Wondering if yogurt is bad too?
The majority of yogurts have been highly processed and packed with sugar. While yogurt does contain beneficial probiotics, there are better sources of these available.
Reach For: Dairy Alternatives
Thanks to the fact that more and more people are recognizing their intolerance to dairy products, while also wanting to minimize the effects of intensive dairy farming on the environment, there are now so many dairy-free options to choose from.
Nut milks, such as almond and cashew, are a great alternative, although some find them a little watery when compared to dairy milk.
Soy milk is comparable in terms of creaminess and thickness, while oat milk, and even oat cream, are also great alternatives.
Many dairy-free milks and products are also great sources of protein and other nutrients, giving your skin an additional boost.
The one exception when it comes to dairy is kefir…
This is a fermented yogurt-like food that does not contain the same amount of lactose and other sugars, due to the fermentation process.
Kefir makes a great alternative to yogurt and sour cream, but make sure you opt for one that has been made with organic milk, so that you are not still being subjected to the antibiotics and growth hormones. Alternatively, try making kefir yourself at home for maximum probiotic benefits.
Stay Away From: White Bread and Bagels
Ever reached for a slice of toast or a bagel as a midday snack?
The fact that these are so easy to prepare, and also provide a satisfying crunch, makes them a popular snack food.
However, both white bread and bagel, along with other foods such as white rice and cookies, have a high glycemic index.
What does this mean?
It means that they have a huge effect on your blood sugar levels. They cause your blood sugar levels to spike significantly, and this then leads to a number of different hormones being released into the body.
The result of all of these extra hormones?
An increase in inflammation and breakouts.
Refined carbohydrates also contain a high amount of sugars. As you already know from above, sugar dramatically accelerates the skin aging process, making this an ingredient to stay well away from.
Don’t want to give up carbs?
You don’t have to…
Reach For: Non-Processed Carbohydrates
Some carbs can actually be quite good for you.
Whole wheat bread has a much lower glycemic index, making them a good alternative to white breads.
How do you know if a bread is truly whole wheat?
Take a look at the ingredients list. It should say that the bread contains 100% whole wheat or whole grain.
You could also look for breads that have been made with healthier flours, such as almond flour and coconut flour.
Oats are another great food to reach for instead…
Not only will they help to fill you up in the same way that bread does, but oats also boast anti-inflammatory properties, along with plenty of antioxidants. Your skin will love this, as it will help to keep your skin soothed and calm, while providing it with anti-aging benefits.
Stay Away From: Creamy Dips
You may think that you are being healthy by snacking on raw vegetable sticks and a dip, but this all depends on what your dip has been made from.
Many of the rich and creamy dips out there are packed with unhealthy fats and calories. As you already know from above, these sugars and dairy additives are not helping your skin in the slightest.
However, don’t worry, since this is an easy food to swap out.
The fact that you are already snacking on raw vegetable sticks means that you only need to replace the creamy dip with something a little healthier, resulting in the perfect snack.
Reach For: Healthy Dips
Dips can actually be such a healthy snack.
They can be made with such a wide range of ingredients, giving your skin the benefit of several different nutrients. The fact that many of them are also raw means that your skin is obtaining maximum benefits from these foods, since no nutrients are lost through the cooking process.
Need some healthy dip inspiration?
Here are a few to try:
- Guacamole – the healthy fats in an avocado are so moisturizing and hydrating for the skin, going a long way when it comes to strengthening the skin’s natural protective barrier. If you are bored of regular guacamole, try adding in a few exciting extras, such as mango, a citrus fruit, or some herbs
- Black Bean Dip – black beans are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and also boast a high amount of antocyanins. These not only act as powerful antioxidants, but also provide anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and even anti-cancer benefits too
- Hummus – just about everyone is familiar with hummus, a highly nutritious and anti-inflammatory dip. To make your hummus even more flavorful and beneficial, try adding in a few extras, such as beetroot, edamame, or caramelized onions
- Roasted Carrot Dips – carrots are packed with antioxidants, so try roasting them into a unique dip. Adding in a few spices brings out their sweetness, and you could also try roasting some garlic too to give your dip more of a kick
- Nut Dips – just about any combination of raw nuts can be whizzed up in a food processor to create a dip, bringing your skin all of the nut benefits mentioned above. You can also try mixing in everything from garlic to lemon to slow-roasted tomatoes, all of which will give the dip more dimension
When it comes to eating healthy, snacking is often the downfall for many. Rather than harming your skin by reaching for highly-processed snacks that are loaded with bad sugars and carbs, give some of these healthier alternatives a try. Not only are they tasty and filling, but it won’t be long before you notice the improvements in your skin for yourself.