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The ABCs of a Healthy Skin Diet

What you put on your plate is even more important than what you put on your skin.

Low-Fat Dairy Products

One the most important components of a healthy skin diet is vitamin A. One of the best places to get it is low-fat dairy products. In fact, experts say that the health of our skin cells is dependent on dietary vitamin A.

Nutrition expert Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, says it's doubly important to eat A-rich dairy foods if you have either diabetes or a thyroid condition.

"Many people who have these problems can't convert the beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is the form found in many foods that we normally associate with this vitamin, such as carrots," says Lipski, the founder and director of InnovativeHealing.com and the author of Digestive Wellness.

The A in dairy products, she says, is "true A," so everyone's skin can use it.

Lipski says low-fat yogurt is not only high in vitamin A, but also acidophilus, the "live" bacteria that is good for intestinal health. Turns out, it may also have an impact on the skin.

"Anything that helps keep digestion normal, any live bacteria or enzymes, is also going to be reflected in healthy-looking skin," says Lipski.

Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and plums

The common link between these four foods is their high antioxidant content. In a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these four fruits weighed in with the highest "total antioxidant capacity" of any food. The benefits of these foods for a healthy skin diet are plentiful.

"Free radicals -- like the kind formed from sun exposure -- damage the membrane of skin cells, potentially allowing damage to the DNA of that cell," says Heller. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect the cell, she says, so there is less chance for damage.

"When you help protect the cells from damage and disintegration, you also guard against premature aging. In this respect, these fruits may very well help keep your skin younger looking longer," says Heller.

According to the new study, other fruits and vegetables with a "high antioxidant capacity" include artichokes, beans (the study cited black, red, and pinto), prunes, and pecans.

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