You might have complained if your mom tried to make you eat peas as a kid, but she only had your best interests in mind -- vegetables are good for you. They're packed full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that keep you healthy.
Eating the right ones can even help your skin. These are the ingredients to look for.
Certain vegetables contain antioxidants, which are compounds that might help to cancel out the effects of skin-damaging free radicals inside your body.
Some studies have shown that vitamins C and E, in addition to being full of antioxidants, might help prevent some DNA damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays [source: WebMD]. Vitamin C is necessary to producing collagen, the substance that gives your skin elasticity.
Beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A called a carotenoid, can help with moisturizing and with healing skin tissue. (Fun fact: Eating lots of carotenoids can change the color of your skin. But don't fret about a slightly yellowish cast -- on a small study of Caucasians, those with yellower skin tone from carotenoids were rated more attractive [source: Shute].) Niacin and folate -- types of B vitamins -- aid in skin cell regeneration and repairing cell damage [sources: WebMD; Tannis].
So which veggies help your skin the most? There are actually quite a few, so even if you're not a big fan of the produce section, you should be able to find something that satisfies your taste buds.
- Spinach. This leafy green tends to be one of the top vegetables that make kids say, "Ew," but hopefully your taste buds have evolved since kindergarten. In addition to bone-building vitamin K, spinach is chock-full of vitamins C and E as well as beta-carotene and folate.
- Bell peppers. If you need color in your cuisine, bell peppers are where it's at. They don't just come in red, green, orange and yellow -- you can even find some black ones. And you may have underestimated bell peppers. They have more than 30 carotenoids and contain more vitamin C per cup than an orange [source: WHFoods].
- Asparagus. Asparagus does more than make your pee smell funny. This member of the lily family is good for your digestion and celebrated for its antioxidant properties. What's in it? Vitamins A, C and E, plus some beta-carotene and lycopene, another important carotenoid.
- Brussels sprouts. You can get almost 125 percent of your daily value of vitamin C from a cup of raw Brussels sprouts [source: WHFoods]. They also contain plenty of folate, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
- Sweet potatoes. They're not the same as yams, and they aren't all vivid orange. Like bell peppers, they come in a wide range of colors, including a lovely purple. They have lots of niacin, carotenoids and vitamin E. Also, in rating systems developed by both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Nutrition Action Health Letter, sweet potatoes came out on top as the most nutritious of all vegetables [source: Morgan].
These are just a few examples of vegetables that can not only improve your skin's health, but also give a boost to your overall health. Take a look at the links below to learn even more about how vegetables can help your skin.
- The George Mateljan Foundation. "The World's Healthiest Foods." (May 23, 2012) http://whfoods.org/foodstoc.php
- Morgan, Susan M. "How Sweet It Is: Sweet Potatoes -- A Fall Favorite." Brunswick (N.C.) County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Sept. 25, 2002 (Oct. 6, 2009) http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/brunswick/newsreleases/fcs0902sweetpot.html
- Shute, Nancy. "The Secret to Glowing (Yellow?) Skin? Eat Your Fruits and Veggies." NPR. March 8, 2012 (May 23, 2012) http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/07/148148858/the-secret-to-glowing-yellow-skin-eat-your-fruits-and-veggies
- Tannis, Allison, M.S., R.H.N. "Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles: Eat Your Way to Firmer, More Beautiful Skin with the 100 Best Anti-Aging Foods." Google Books. Fair Winds Press; Beverly, Mass.; 2009. (Oct. 6, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=3OuR6Qi6htQC&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=what+vegetables+are+best+for+your+skin&source=bl&ots=G7MFDy4mPk&sig=ZGXW_jjd4M5m95a3f8LJAltV1do&hl=en&ei=ESjNSvTmMYLYsgP08529Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8#v=onepage&q=what%20vegetables%20are%20b&f=false
- WebMD. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." August 2006 (Oct. 28, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/nutrients-for-healthy-skin-inside-out