Eating a healthy breakfast has been linked to weight loss, prevention of chronic illness, and higher energy levels throughout the day. Turns out, it may also have cosmetic benefits, as well: "The foods you fill your plate with each morning (and throughout the day) can have an impact on the health and appearance of your skin," says Jeffrey Benabio, MD, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. These 10 healthy-skin breakfasts—along with other healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, not smoking and drinking plenty of water will help you start (and end!) your day with a gorgeous glow.
Low-Fat Yogurt with Granola and Pomegranate Seeds: Dairy products contain Vitamin A and protein, vital ingredients for healthy skin cells, but full-fat milks and cheeses are also high in artery-clogging saturated fat. Get the good without the bad by choosing low-fat or fat-free options; plain yogurt is also a great choice because it contains live active cultures that can help regulate digestive health. [Bouchez] Top your dish with granola and pomegranate seeds for a satisfying crunch, a hint of sweetness, and a wallop of antioxidants to help fight off dangerous (and wrinkle-causing) free radicals.
Whole-Grain Toast with Almond Butter: Choosing whole-grain or whole-wheat bread over the white stuff is always a smart move, since it’s higher in fiber and nutrients and, usually, lower in sugar. “A diet high in sugar can be very destructive to the skin, and so it’s best to avoid refined products whenever you can.” Spread a slice or two of toast with almond butter: It contains about 50 percent more polyunsaturated fats—and about 25 percent less saturated fat!—than peanut butter and has a healthy dose of iron, which is essential for healthy skin. [Erman]
Whole-Wheat Mini Bagel with Lox: Salmon is often touted as a superfood for healthy skin, and for good reason: Along with other oily fish, it has one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids -- a nutrient that helps regulate oil production and reduce inflammation (a contributing factor to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis) in the body. [Watson] Look for farmed U.S. Atlantic salmon or wild Alaskan salmon, which have similar omega-3 levels. (Imported farmed salmon, on the other hand, may not be fed as healthy a diet and therefore may have lower levels of omega-3s -- or higher levels of toxins and heavy metals.) [Storrs] Lox, or smoked salmon, is a popular topping for bagels. Stick with a whole-wheat one, and reduce your portion size by only eating half or choosing a smaller size.
Fruit Smoothie with Flaxseeds: On your way out the door? Toss some berries (and maybe some veggies, too!) in a blender with some ice for a quick breakfast on the go. Smoothies are a great way to fill up on fruits, which are full of antioxidants and also have a high water content -- so they'll keep your skin hydrated. To boost their nutritional value even more, add some ground flaxseed to your mixture before blending. You won't notice the tiny seeds in your drink, but they'll provide a valuable serving of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote healthy cell membranes. Cell membranes regulate what nutrients go in and out of cells and also affect cells' ability to retain water. Healthy cell membranes mean moist, smooth and fine line-free skin.
Whole-Grain Cereal with Fat-Free Milk and Berries: It’s another example of the healthy-skin trifecta: whole grains, low-fat dairy, and antioxidant-packed produce. Many cereals are also fortified with nutrients like zinc and iron, which are great for skin but often lacking in our diets. Sprinkle on fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries during the summer; in the winter, switch to frozen. Studies show that frozen fruit and vegetables retain their nutrients as well as (or sometimes even better) than crops that are sold fresh. Either way, they are rich in vitamin C, a proven wrinkle-fighter.
Turkey, Egg and (Low-Fat) Cheese on a Whole-Grain English Muffin: Instead of bacon, top your egg and cheese sandwich with a thin slice of roasted or smoked turkey. This deli meat is high in zinc, which helps keep skin’s collagen and elastin fibers springy and strong. [Dorn] Eggs contain choline, a type of B vitamin that your body needs to make collagen, and lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant that protects against damage from pollution and from the sun.
Spinach and Tomato Omelet: A savory omelet is a great way to incorporate a serving or two of vegetables into your morning meal. Any produce will do, if your goal is to add in antioxidants, but few veggies go better with eggs than spinach and tomatoes—and these nutrient powerhouses have plenty of healthy-skin benefits of their own. One Australian study found that skin-cancer survivors who ate the most leafy greens developed fewer new skin tumors over a period of 11 years than those who ate the least. [Hughes, et al.] And tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against sun damage. More lycopene is released when tomatoes are cooked, so heat them up before folding them into your omelet for the biggest antioxidant bang for your buck.
Sweet-Potato Hash: Sweet potatoes don't have to be only for dinner. The orange spud makes a delicious alternative to plain white breakfast potatoes, whether they’re fried, baked or tossed in a skillet with onions, peppers and whatever other veggies you have on hand. Or, keep it simple like Judy Caplan, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Her favorite breakfast is a baked sweet potato with cinnamon and a little butter. [Sifferlin] Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin C and A, both nutrients that have been shown to help reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
Southwestern Scramble with Avocado, Red Peppers and Salsa: Avocados are another great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which will help keep your skin looking young and healthy. They are also rich in biotin, a nutrient that helps prevent dry skin and nails. Red peppers are one of the highest sources of Vitamin C, and salsa packs another punch of free-radical-fighting lycopene. Toss in some chopped onion and cilantro, and you've got yourself a hearty South-of-the-border breakfast.
Oatmeal and Green Tea: When it comes to breakfast beverages, you can't beat green tea; in fact, you might as well have a mug with any of the meals listed here. Research has found that compounds in green tea green tea, both when taken orally or applied topically, seem to help reduce sunburn, skin damage from ultraviolet light and the risk of skin cancer. [Nichols, et al.] In a 2011 study from Texas Women's University, women who drank a daily green-tea beverage saw improvements in the elasticity and density of their skin, as well as improved blood flow and oxygen to the skin, after 12 weeks. [Heinrich, et al.] Oatmeal, on the other hand, is a great source of filling fiber and can help lower your cholesterol -- and you can use your leftover oats to make a skin-soothing face mask!