5 Foods That Make You Look Younger, According to Science

We have some bad news: Along with living in pollution, sleeping in your makeup, and massaging in your products with the wrong fingers (really), what you eat could be causing wrinkles. It's true: simple carbs, sugars, and even dairy affect your skin's internal make-up, like its elasticity from wrinkle-induced glucose spikes. Inflammatory foods break down collagen and DNA (ever heard of dairy face?) and even cause the cursed adult acne. Basically, that slice (or, if we're being honest, slices) of pizza are prematurely aging you, so think again before another pizza-and-wine night. (Alcohol is another wrinkle-causing item. More bad news, we know.)

So in an effort to look as young and youthful as we can while eating healthfully (which, of course, is synonymous with one another), we searched for the best anti-aging foods that will help plump up our skin and fend off fine lines and wrinkles, all according to science. Keep scrolling to learn more!


Watermelon slices on a white background
Shay Cochrane

Watermelons are chock-full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fends off cell-damaging free radicals. It also has a sun protection factor of 3, acting as a natural sunscreen (but don't forget to lather up with actual sunscreen, too!). Studies show that watermelon also reduces inflammation—so basically what we're saying is it's a miracle fruit of sorts.


Café Fernando

Pomegranates are a great natural source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights off wrinkle-causing free radicals. In one study, the effects of pomegranate juice, extract, and oil was tested against UVB-mediated damage, to which each worked to decrease the harmful effects of UVB radiation. The Kylie Jenner–endorsed fruit also has a component called anthocyanin, which boosts collagen production.

Bell Pepper

Green pepper, yellow pepper, and red pepper
The Bix Blog

Another natural food high in vitamin C is bell pepper. However, make sure that they're fully ripe before consuming, as studies show that vitamin C content increases as the pepper become more ripe and vivid in color. Chop them up in your salad for amped-up collagen production and sun protection.

Maple Syrup

Small glass bowl of maple syrup
Drawn to Details

While maple syrup is obviously sugary, if you use a small amount, you'll benefit from its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. If you want to avoid the sugar content entirely, NYC spa owner and beauty and wellness expert June Jacobs recommends this age-reversing DIY maple syrup mask: Stir together 1 tablespoon of warm milk and 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup. Add 3 tablespoons of finely ground oats, and stir again. Gently massage it onto your face and leave on for up to 20 minutes. Rinse off and follow with a moisturizer.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Bertoli Extra Virgin Olive Oil $5

If you're aware of the Mediterranean diet, then you know that a large factor of it is olive oil. This good-for-you fat has strong anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Also, two studies examining the diets of middle-aged adults found that those who ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fats from olive oil were better protected from the sun. Another study found that eating olive oil helped heal the duration of wounds in burn victims, so you can imagine how effective it is at turning back the clock on your skin's appearance.

Leafy Greens

Pile of kale
Nutri Living

As if you didn't already know, leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as the high-powered antioxidant lutein, which helps boost skin's hydration levels and ward off wrinkles. Moreover, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, eating two to three servings per day of dark, leafy green vegetables lowers one's risk of skin cancer.

Article Sources
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  2. Hong MY, Hartig N, Kaufman K, Hooshmand S, Figueroa A, Kern M. Watermelon consumption improves inflammation and antioxidant capacity in rats fed an atherogenic diet. Nutr Res. 2015;35(3):251-8. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.12.005

  3. Afaq F, Zaid MA, Khan N, Dreher M, Mukhtar H. Protective effect of pomegranate-derived products on UVB-mediated damage in human reconstituted skin. Exp Dermatol. 2009;18(6):553-61. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00829.x

  4. Simonne, A.h., et al. Ascorbic Acid and Provitamin A Contents in Unusually Colored Bell Peppers (Capsicum AnnuumL.). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, vol. 10, no. 4, 1997, pp. 299–311. doi:10.1006/jfca.1997.0544

  5. Cardinal, Sébastien, et al. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Quebecol and Its Derivatives. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, vol. 26, no. 2, 2016, pp. 440–444., doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.11.096

  6. Shapira N. Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(2):75-86. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00264.x

  7. Najmi M, Vahdat shariatpanahi Z, Tolouei M, Amiri Z. Effect of oral olive oil on healing of 10-20% total body surface area burn wounds in hospitalized patients. Burns. 2015;41(3):493-6. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2014.08.010

  8. United States Department of Agriculture. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables. Agricultural Research Service.

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