Eating This Food May Help Prevent Wrinkles, According to New Research
This healthy snack may help reduce wrinkles and uneven skin tone in some people—here's what you need to know before you load up your shopping cart.
As we age, the appearance of wrinkles in our skin and increasing hyperpigmentation are common skin problems. And while no one food or product will totally prevent or erase wrinkles, new research reveals that consuming almonds daily may help reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging for postmenopausal women.
We know that almonds are a healthy snack that's rich in vitamin E, but how does that impact our skin? We asked EatingWell's assistant nutrition editor Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, to weigh in. "Vitamin E is a vitamin but it's also an antioxidant,'' says Ball. "This means it can help protect cells, including skin cells, from free radical damage. This not only improves the skin's appearance as we age by reducing wrinkles and evening out pigmentation, but also it helps reduce the damage that can lead to skin cancer."
The study, released in the journal Nutrients, from researchers at the University of California, Davis, (and funded by the Almond Board of California), looked at the effects of almond consumption on wrinkles and pigment intensity and facial biophysical parameters such as sebum production and skin hydration, and water loss in postmenopausal women who have the Fitzpatrick skin type I or II.
The Fitzpatrick skin classification describes your skin type and how it will react to sun exposure. This information can be helpful for planning your activities outside as well as for choosing the right cosmetics. One important note to share is that this study is expressly limited to those who have the Fitzpatrick skin type I or II. This is because those skin types typically are the lightest complexion on the scale and are the most likely to burn.
To investigate whether almonds are beneficial in delaying skin aging, researchers conducted a randomized controlled study for 24 weeks. The study participants were broken into two groups. One group ate almonds as a snack, which amounted to 20% of their total calories per day on average. Then, another snack, such as a granola bar, was substituted for the same amount of calories in the control group.
The researchers assessed participants' skin at the start of the study and then again at 8, 16 and 24 weeks. Researchers determined that participants who snacked on almonds saw a reduction in wrinkle severity of up to 16% over 24 weeks. The study also revealed that facial pigmentation intensity—or unevenness of skin tone—was reduced by 20% by the 16-week mark.
The researchers concluded that almonds—which are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may protect against UV damage—may be responsible for the effects they saw in both wrinkles and skin tone. While the study was conducted for 24 weeks (a short time frame when it comes to aging), it does reveal that there's more research to be done to look at whether almonds could be a dietary aid used for improving skin pigmentation and wrinkles in people of other ages, genders and skin types.
Before we start stocking up on almonds, Ball shares some of the limitations of this study and what we can take away from their findings: "This study was done on a small group of people with similar demographics: all postmenopausal women with fair skin that burns easily." While Ball acknowledges that these results aren't applicable to the entire population, vitamin E is still an important nutrient that helps your body function at its best. She says, "Vitamin E aids in immunity, promotes eye health, improves heart health and much more. Almonds are packed with fiber and healthy fats, making them a great choice for a healthy snack and addition to meals—even though they might not magically reduce the wrinkles on your skin."
What can we do to improve the health and vitality of our skin as we age? "Staying hydrated is important for healthy skin," says Ball. "Regularly using sunscreen protects from sunburns that can damage skin in the short and long term. There are also several foods that promote healthy skin, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. An overall healthy lifestyle will keep your body and skin feeling at its best."