Just like brushing our teeth or combing our hair, anti-aging has become its own daily process in our lives. And even though many women haven't yet experienced the crux of aging skin, most women have experienced pressure to look young. But is there another way to push off wrinkles that doesn't involve overspending on skincare products?
According to Dr. Brooke Scheller, a certified nutrition specialist, there could be. It all starts with collagen, one of the body's most abundant proteins. "It's a protein found in our connective tissues, like muscles, skin, and the digestive system, that helps provide structure and elasticity," she explains. Isabel Smith, a registered dietitian adds, "Collagen is the key to various structural components of the body. It's involved in our skin, hair, nails, bones, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments.
Naturally produced collagen begins to decline in our 20s, Dr. Scheller notes, and that's why eating collagen-rich foods that can help keep its production going. "Collagen widely known to break down over time, leading to physical changes, including wrinkles and sagging skin. It can also begin to break down our muscles and joints, too," she says. Smith explains, Eating collagen may help to boost collagen in the body and is also as a good source of extra protein."
While Dr. Scheller does say that it's possible to see results with collagen supplements, especially ones that contain only collagen peptides, she outlined a list of foods that you can work into your diet, too. Sure, the grocery store may not be as fun as Sephora, but it'll be a cost-effective and healthy way to see results. Keep scrolling to learn the benefits of collagen and the best collagen-rich foods.
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"One popular source of collagen is found in bone broth. This is made by cooking chicken, beef, or other animal bones to extract the collagen and minerals," Dr. Scheller says. "It's quite a time-consuming process, though, and many companies have created high-quality bone broth products that you can purchase in stores or online, like Bonafide Provisions, Osso Good, and Kettle & Fire." If you want to plug in your crockpot for chicken soup tonight, try a mouthwatering Martha Stewart-approved recipe that will instantly warm you up.
"Gelatin is another source of collagen that many people purchase as a powder to add to smoothies or other meals to increase collagen intake," Dr. Scheller says. Try adding gelatin to a low-calorie smoothie to work this ingredient into your breakfast routine.
"Eggs—specifically the whites—contain glycine and proline, which are the main amino acids that make up collagen," Dr. Scheller says. But don't pass on the yolks! She mentions that these are filled with vitamin D and healthy fats that help maintain the health of skin, bones, and muscles. Whether you prefer your eggs soft-boiled or scrambled, they're the perfect protein-packed way to start your day.
Use fresh citrus to get your collagen boost, which both Smith and Dr. Scheller say has high levels of vitamin C that assist collagen production. Plus, there's nothing more refreshing than a delicious fruit salad or even a pop of citrus in a salad.
Guess what else has a lot of vitamin C? Broccoli is another one of Dr. Scheller's recommendations. Like eggs, there are countless ways to cook (or not) broccoli so that it perfectly suits your tastebuds. As for us? We love roasted broccoli in a refreshing lemon garlic salad.
Brighten your broccoli experience by tossing it with pomegranate seeds and baby kale.
And speaking of salads, leafy greens are also on Dr. Scheller's list of collagen-rich picks because they're chock-full of with vitamin C. But don't bum yourself out with a boring bowl of basic greens. Instead, opt for a colorful salad that is deceptively delicious.
"Other minerals like zinc are important for proper collagen production, too," Dr. Scheller says. Foods like nuts are full of zinc and because they're also so rich in protein, a small handful of nuts will fill you right up. If you're into healthy snacking, nuts are definitely going to become your new go-to midnight craving.
Last but not least, Dr. Scheller lists mushrooms as another food item that's full of collagen-friendly zinc. Plus, mushrooms should already be in your kitchen since they're a great taste-booster in one-pot meals.
Gauza-Włodarczyk M, Kubisz L, Włodarczyk D. Amino acid composition in determination of collagen origin and assessment of physical factors effects. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017;104(Pt A):987-991. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.07.013
Lis DM, Baar K. Effects of different vitamin C-enriched collagen derivatives on collagen synthesis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019;29(5):526-531. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0385