You Are What You Eat…Or Can You At Least Look Like It?

The right foods could give you a food tan

Credits: Rama Sivamani

Have you ever wondered if what you eat makes a difference for your skin? It turns out that eating fruits and vegetables can change the skin’s glow.[1]

One study found that the consumption of regular fruits and vegetables over six weeks led to a healthier glow with a 21% increase in the red tint and a 16% increase in the yellow tint of the skin.[2] This reddish yellow tint was due to the extra carotenoids in the skin, which impart a reddish and yellowish color to fruits and vegetables. It seems that these same carotenoids are responsible for the skin’s extra glow.[3]

You might be wondering what fruits and vegetables to eat in order to achieve this effect. Aim for those that are rich in carotenoids such as lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene.[2] Lycopene can be found in fruits with a red hue, such as tomatoes and watermelons. Pumpkins and carrots contain both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, and sweet potatoes and spinach provide an additional source of beta-carotene.

The next time you want to add some more color to your skin, think about adding color to your diet. The age-old adage “you are what you eat” may have some some truth for your skin too!


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1. Whitehead RD, Ozakinci G, Perrett DI. Attractive skin coloration: harnessing sexual selection to improve diet and health. Evol Psychol.2012;10(5):842-854; PMID: 23253790.

2.  Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, et al. You are what you eat: within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS One.2012;7(3):e32988; PMID: 22412966.