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More Fruits and Vegetables, Less Wrinkles

Regardless of your skin type or where you live, what you eat affects your ability to resist wrinkles as well as disease, as this recent study of "Food Habits in Later Life" shows. An international study of eating patterns and aging found that the complexions of both olive and fair-skinned individuals fared better in those who ate more of the World's Healthiest Foods' fruits and vegetables and less fat and sugar.

The study evaluated 177 Greek-born subjects living in Melbourne, 69 Greek subjects living in rural Greece, 48 Anglo-Celtic Australian elderly living in Melbourne, and 159 Swedish subjects living in Sweden, all of whom had their dietary intakes of various foods measured and their skin assessed. When the data was pooled and analyzed, researchers found that a higher intake of vegetables, olive oil, fish, and legumes, and lower intakes of butter, margarine, milk products, and sugar products was associated with significantly more youthful, less wrinkled skin. Even when researchers factored in smoking-which has been conclusively linked to premature aging of the skin-diet still played a role in amount of the wrinkling present in sun-exposed skin. The bottom line: People who ate the most fruits and vegetables and the least fat and sugar had smoother, more youthful skin.

The study authors note that the skin is a "major target of oxidative stress," and speculate that the most nutrient dense fruits and vegetables--those that qualify as the World's Healthiest Foods--protect against sun damage due to their high levels of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E. Since fatty acids are present in the skin, monounsaturated fats like olive oil (another of the World's Healthiest Foods), which is more stable and better able to resist oxidative damage, may provide skin protection through a similar mechanism.

Skin-smoothing foods included:

Reference: Purba MB, Kouris-Blazos A, Wattanapenpaiboon N, et al , Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference? J Am Coll Nutr 2001 Feb;20(12):71-80.