Want Glowing Skin? Eat These 10 Hydrating Foods

Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor By Lindsay Kellner
Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor
Lindsay is a freelance writer and certified yoga instructor based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a journalism and psychology degree from New York University. Kellner is the co-author of “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self Care,” with mbg Sustainability Editor Emma Loewe.
Medical review by Keira Barr, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist
Keira Barr is a dual board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Resilient Health Institute.
Want Glowing Skin? Eat These 10 Hydrating Foods

Photo by Nataša Mandić

Last Thursday, mindbodygreen hosted our second Supper Series in partnership with Sephora, and the theme of the night was hydration. Between two panels, we talked about all things water, and the conversation didn't disappoint—from how to improve the quality of the Earth's oceans to the best filters for drinking water to how to care for our skin. Following the conversation for the evening was supper, which was a gorgeous three-course meal, plus passed apps of water-dense, high-fat, hydrating foods known for their complexion-changing properties.

We can't blame you for wanting a sneak peek into the menu! These healing ingredients were instrumental in the menu—not only were they delicious, but many of them are gut-healing, anti-inflammatory, and therefore beneficial for the skin. Next time you're feeling like your skin needs a boost, reach for one of these:

1. Collagen.

The night was bookended with collagen. To start, bone broth was one of the passed apps at the "happy hour" reception. There was one chicken, one beef, and one "glow," which was a combination of veggies and chicken all courtesy of Bonafide provisions. To end the evening, almond milk collagen hot chocolate was served with gelatin marshmallows—which are chock-full of collagen.

Taking a collagen supplement has been shown to brighten the skin, and in fact, experts say that oral consumption and supplementation of collagen is the most effective way to use it on skin. Products that help boost collagen and contain it are helpful, too, but it's best to work from the inside out.


2. Cilantro.

Cilantro was served in the vegan spicy pea guacamole in passed hors d'oeuvres and was included in several other dishes throughout the evening. Anecdotally, cilantro has skin-healing and hormone-balancing powers and is an essential ingredient in mbg food editor Liz Moody's smoothie for bad-skin days. Research shows that cilantro has helped reduce the aging effects of sun damage in mice in addition to boosting—you guessed it—collagen.

3. Cucumber.

A cucumber is more than 95 percent water, so if you have a hard time remembering to drink water throughout the day, try noshing on some cucumber. One study found that cucumber contains many bioactive compounds, including cucurbitacins, cucumegastigmanes cucumerin , vitexin, orientin, and apigenin that can help hydrate skin, reduce swelling, irritation and even alleviate pain from sunburn. As soon as guests arrived, they nibbled on vegan cantaloupe and cucumber skewer (vegan) that were dusted with Korean chili flakes and nondairy yogurt drizzle. Cucumber-and-mint-infused water was one of the three infused-water variations at our hydration station, and it's quite a refreshing combination.


4. Basil.

At the dinner, we served endive spears with vegan avocado mousse, julienne radish, fresh grapefruit, and micro basil—which has been shown to have acne-fighting properties. Fun fact: Kristin Cavallari, who has notoriously beautiful skin, swears by the healing powers of basil in her cooking, too.

5. Avocado.

Natural-beauty expert and herbalist Jessa Blades spoke on a panel about self-care and hydration. When co-founder and chief brand officer Colleen Wachob asked her what we could do to hydrate other than drink water, she said we should all eat more good fats! According to mbg's experts, avocado oil is quite healing for dry skin, and it may have more youth-boosting properties than olive oil—and research supports their positioning.


6. Matcha.

Matcha is a staple in the wellness world—and experts say that it's an antioxidant powerhouse, which translates to excellent skin care benefits. Health coaches swear by matcha and recommend adding it to your smoothies if you're not a fan of the grassy taste.

7. Apple cider vinegar.

The healing properties of apple cider vinegar are well-known—it's acne-clearing, supports gut health when diluted, and is famous for being a multipurpose cure-all. It contains malic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). mbg's associate health editor Gretchen Lidicker did a thorough analysis of the research behind the spectrum of claims of apple cider vinegar and found that it can be helpful in blood sugar regulation, which ultimately benefits the skin, too. Each guest at the Supper Series received a small apple cider vinegar shooter to dilute and use as a palate cleanser.


8. Squash.

Squash is high in beta-carotene, which gives the winter root veggie its yellow to orange huge. Butternut squash in particular contains potassium, an important electrolyte that may help reduce inflammatory responses. One particular study found that it has significant benefits for skin health, including: reducing inflammation, preventing cellular damage, preventing premature skin aging, and protecting against sunburn and skin cancer by inhibiting free radicals. At the Supper Series event, roasted winter squash was served in the first course, which was mushroom bisque, and was also the main event of our vegan entrée: a stuffed winter squash with wild rice, hazelnuts, and cherries.

9. Wild-caught salmon.

Following Blades' advice once again, wild-caught and sustainably sourced cold-water fish are an excellent source of healthy polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, and nutritionists routinely recommend increasing fatty-acid intake to help improve and protect the skin.


10. Manuka honey.

It's no secret that the mbg fam loves a Manuka honey mask (here are four DIY Manuka-based recipes if you're feeling inspired), but ingesting it has major benefits for the skin as well. Research has found that it helps keep the skin youthful by preventing wrinkle formation, regulates pH, and helps prevent infections with its many antimicrobial properties. It has a lower glycemic index than other sweeteners, which helps regulate hormones and subsequently can be beneficial for the skin, and has anti-inflammatory properties as well. The hemp-crusted wild-caught salmon with a Manuka honey glaze entrée option was a healthy, hydrating powerhouse!

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