10 Collagen-Rich Foods To Add to Your Diet

Eating collagen-rich foods can help your body make more of its own collagen. Here's what the science says about top collagen-rich foods to include in your diet.

Is it just us, or are you seeing collagen-rich foods everywhere, too? It's all over our Instagram feeds, at the grocery store and even in the checkout aisle of natural foods stores—most of which is in supplement form.

Collagen is popular, alright: the industry is supposed to be worth $19.9 billion by 2030, according to market research company, Grand View Research. Its sharp rise to fame is mostly for its anti-aging skin benefits, and the science supports this boom. In a 2019 study published in Alternative Therapies In Health and Medicine, where participants consumed collagen supplements regularly, researchers reported successful anti-aging benefits including reduced fine lines, wrinkles and crow's feet. Collagen has also been found to help with improving joint functionality and joint pain according to a 2021 review published in Amino Acids.

Legit benefits aside, the reality is that regular collagen supplements aren't for everyone. They can also be pricey. And, truthfully, some of us prefer to try a food-first approach before resorting to supplements. Even if younger-looking skin or joint pain relief isn't of interest to you, collagen should still be on your radar: we start to lose collagen in our mid-20s, and after the age of 40, our bodies lose about 1 percent of collagen each year according to a 2019 review published in Molecules.

10 Best Foods To Eat for a Collagen Boost

With that said, here are the 10 best collagen-rich foods to add to your eating pattern to boost your intake.

1. Beef Bone Broth

Bovine—aka cattle—is one of the top sources of collagen on the market. And if you're looking for more collagen type I (the type of collagen that plays a big role in skin, hair and nail health), then beef bone broth is a worthy go-to because it's a great source of collagen type I. Make your own with our Beef Bone Broth recipe.

2. Skin-On Chicken

When middle-aged women (39 to 59 years) took oral collagen supplements made from chicken cartilage, they improved their fine lines, wrinkles, crow's feet and skin elasticity, according to a 2019 study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. So if you want a food-first approach, go for skin-on chicken. Or, if it's ground chicken that you like, ask your butcher if the ground chicken includes the skin and, if not, ask them to grind it for you from skin-on thighs or breasts.

3. Pork Bone Broth

Another common and rich source of collagen is porcine, or pig, byproducts. Interestingly, porcine collagen closely resembles human collagen, which is why it's often used in healthcare settings for skin, wound and tendon repair and reinforcement.

photo of beef bone broth in clear bowl with carrots and celery

4. Sardines

Not unlike other animal sources of collagen, fish collagen is concentrated in the bones, skin and scales. So, if you're going the whole food route for collagen, choose a fish where you'll actually eat most or all of the fish, such as sardines. Also, if you cook your other fish—like salmon fillets—with the skin on and then eat the skin, you should get a little collagen boost from that, too. Try our healthy sardine recipes for inspiration.

5. Organ Meats

Collagen type I is naturally concentrated in organs. If animal organs, like the liver, heart, brain and kidneys, aren't a part of your diet, don't worry: there are other ways to get collagen type I into your diet, as it's also found in skin, bone and ligaments.

6. Collagen-Infused Drinks

Yes, bone broth, but we covered that already. Think: collagen water, collagen lattes and collagen smoothies. Beverages with hydrolyzed collagen are easily digested and well-absorbed in the body, per research published in 2019 in the journal Molecules. But what is hydrolyzed collagen? It's a supplement form of collagen—aka smaller collagen molecules, called peptides, that have been extracted from their original source (chicken, beef, fish, etc.) You can add your own collagen powder at home but many coffee and smoothie shops are carrying collagen-rich beverages.

7. Gummy Candy

OK so not the healthiest way to get collagen—because it comes with a decent dose of added sugars, so don't make this your go-to collagen food—but a lot of gummy candy is made with gelatin, and gelatin is made from partially hydrolyzed collagen. Not all gelling agents come from animal sources, and what's used to make vegetarian- and vegan-friendly gummies won't contain collagen. Vegan gelatin is made from agar-agar or other plant-based sources.

8. Berries

Pick your favorite—blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries. They're all a great way to add vitamin C to your diet, a nutrient that helps your body build collagen. Vitamin C is also a vitamin we must eat because our body doesn't make it naturally. A cup of strawberries has nearly 100% of your daily target for vitamin C and a cup of raspberries or blackberries has about 35% of your daily C goal. Side note: vitamin C has been found to have its own skin health benefits: research has found that those who have vitamin C-rich diets have better skin appearance and fewer wrinkles.

9. Broccoli

Another tasty, easy way to add vitamin C to your diet is broccoli. A cup of cooked or raw broccoli delivers almost a full day's dose of vitamin C, which plays an essential role in building collagen. And while vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen, you don't have to consume it at the same time as your collagen-rich food or collagen supplement. Including both in your diet over the course of the day is sufficient.

10. Aloe Vera Juice

Slathering on aloe vera gel is helpful when dealing with a sunburn, but consuming aloe is another way to receive benefits. for our skin. A 2020 study published in The Journal of Dermatology found that low doses of aloe increased collagen content in the dermis layer of the skin (the middle layer). The study states that a daily oral intake of 40 micrograms of aloe helped to increase skin barrier function, moisture and elasticity.

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