Just like brushing our teeth or combing our hair, anti-aging has become its own daily process in our lives. And even though many of us haven't yet experienced the crux of aging skin, most people have experienced the pressure to look young. But is there another way to push off wrinkles that don't involve overspending on skincare products?
According to 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, Scheller notes, and that's why eating collagen-rich foods can help keep its production going. "Collagen is 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 adds, "Eating collagen may help to boost collagen in the body and is also a good source of extra protein."
While Scheller says 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.
Meet the Expert
- Brooke Scheller, DCN, MS, CNS is a clinical nutritionist and wellness expert.
- Isabel Smith, MS RD CDN, is a registered dietitian and the CEO and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
Keep scrolling to learn the benefits of collagen and the best collagen-rich foods.
"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," 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."
"Gelatin is another source of collagen that many people purchase as a powder to add to smoothies or other meals to increase collagen intake," 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," 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 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.
Tomatoes are also chock full of vitamin C that can help with increasing your collagen production. Try eating them raw with a drizzle of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper or add them to your favorite salad recipe.
Guess what else has a lot of vitamin C? Broccoli is another one of 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.
Avocados aren't only meant to go on toast — they are chock full of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids that help your skin glow all year round. According to studies, Omega-3s do indeed boost collagen production. Add one to your smoothie, salad, or of course, a piece of toast and reap the benefits.
And speaking of veggies, leafy greens are also on Scheller's list of collagen-rich picks because they're chock-full of 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," 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 going to become your new go-to midnight craving.
Last but not least, 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.
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