So it turns out eating fruit and vegetables increases your attractiveness… and I don’t just mean you look great sitting there eating your salad. Beauty, or others perception of your beauty, is linked to your fruit and vegetable consumption!
We all know that eating fruit and vegetables are good for health, energy and vitality – and that good nutrition and beauty are related. But now research from University of St. Andrews (UK) demonstrates that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with healthy glowing skin.
In this study, the scientists followed the dietary patterns of students over a period of six weeks:
- These students filled out food frequency questionnaires which provided data around fruit and vegetable consumption (no offence to potatoes but they were not counted as vegetables in this study)
- They recorded the change in skin colour and compared perceived attractiveness among these students
At the end of the study, they found that students who ate more fruits and vegetables had a healthy golden skin. On the contrary, students who reduced the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate looked less attractive by the end of the study. NB: there was no make-up allowed, or tanning of any sort.
How Much Do I Need To Eat?
You don’t have to double your fruit and vegetable intake to achieve this either. Adding just 2-3 extra portions had a noticeable effect on attractiveness within a period of six weeks. Researchers determined:
- eating an additional 2.91 portions per day would make you look healthy
- eating an additional 3.3 portions of fruits and vegetables would make you look attractive
On average, one portion of fruit or vegetable is equivalent to 80g e.g. an apple, banana or orange will count as one portion.
Although this study focused on the link between the change in skin tone from carotenoids and attractiveness, previous studies showed that fruits and vegetables have several vitamins and minerals which improve skin health and slow down the ageing process.
Get Your Glow On
According to the research published recently in the American Journal of Public Health, carotenoids (the red, yellow and orange pigments found in fruits and vegetables) are responsible for the healthy skin glow. They are deposited under the skin and provide several health benefits. However, all richly pigmented phytonutrients provide health (and therefore beauty) benefits:
- chlorophyll is green, and is responsible for the green colour of leafy and fibrous green vegetables, provides benefits to the liver and has structural features similar to haeme (an iron-containing compound in our bodies)
- these include carotenes and xanthophylls e.g. astaxanthin and provide antioxidant activity – green plants often contain carotenoids too but you can’t see them under the green of the chlorophyll
- carotene provides rich yellows and oranges i.e. mango, carrots, and sweet potatoes, as well as the yellow of butter and other animal fats
- this pigment is important to our diet as, in the body, each carotene molecule is converted into two vitamin A molecules as and when needed; it’s good for healthy eyes, mucous membranes reducing wrinkles and acne
- lycopene, canthaxanthin, and astaxanthin share a similar structure to carotene:
- the red tones of tomatoes, red pepper, guava, red grapefruit, papaya, rosehips, and watermelon indicate the presence of lycopene – which is an antioxidant and is good for prostate health
- canthaxanthin produces the pink colours of some crustaceans, salmon, trout, and lobster
- these are antioxidant yellow pigments seen most notably in lemons, oranges, and grapefruit
- many of the foods that we eat, including dark chocolate, strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon, pecans, walnuts, grapes, and cabbage, contain flavonoids
- anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, and the reddish-brown pigment theaflavin found in tea, act to create colour, while most other flavonoids are visible only under UV light
- flavonoids include red, purple, or blue anthocyanins, as well as white or pale yellow compounds such as rutin, quercetin, and kaempferol (this last compound is being studied for skin cancer)
- blueberries, cranberries, and bilberries are rich in anthocyanins, as are raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, cherries, eggplant peel, black rice, Concord and muscadine grapes, red cabbage, and violet petals – anthocyanins are partly responsible for the red and purple colours of some olives and are good for the heart
- proanthocyanidins are linked to beige, black, red, brown, and tan colours – apples, cinnamon, grape seed, cocoa, grape skin, and the grapes used to make most red wines all contain proanthcyanidin
- the yellow colours of flavonoid pigments can be found as chalcones (found in flowers), aurones (also in flowers) and flavonols
- these give rise to the distinctive deep red of beetroot and consist of two sub-groups, red-violet (betacyanin) and yellow-orange (betaxanthin) pigments (and are quite rare)
- the composition of different betalain pigments can vary, giving rise to varieties of beetroot that are yellow or other colours, in addition to the usual deep red – the betalains in beets include betanin, isobetanin, probetanin, and neobetanin (the red-violet ones are known collectively as betacyanin which are used as food colourants)
- other pigments contained in beet are indicaxanthin and vulgaxanthins (yellow-orange pigments known as betaxanthins)
- betalains are also responsible for the crimson of Amaranthus flowers
Beautify Your Diet
So there are a few takeaways here:
- whilst the rise in edible flowers might seem a bit facetious, they are in fact beneficial to health and beauty – you can read more about them here
- eating a rainbow of colour each day (and getting plenty of variety generally) is a very good idea
- the more deeply pigmented the produce the better
- eating seasonal and local fruit and veg will optimise the phytonutrient content
- ideally you’d eat 2 servings of fruit and 5-7 servings of vegetables a day but if you can add just 2 extra portions to your day it will make a huge difference to your health, wellbeing and appearance
One of the tips I give my clients is to grab an extra handful of leafy greens for their plate when having a salad or, in cooler months, sauté a cup of greens to add to a cooked breakfast or dinner. How can you add more fruit and veg to your day?