Have you ever peered into your fridge at night, wishing your tastiest snacks were healthy for you? Believe it or not, supporting your skin through a healthy diet can be a delicious endeavor. For example, blueberries are a tasty snack that are available year-round, and they also happen to be one of the healthiest foods for your skin. Furthermore, blueberries have so many dermatological benefits that they can indeed be called the “superfood of the skin.”
The Science behind Blueberries’ Skin Benefits
If there’s one health benefit that blueberries are known for, it’s antioxidants. These natural compounds protect your skin by stabilizing free radicals, which would otherwise damage your skin through a process called oxidative stress. The most important antioxidant for skin health is anthocyanin, the pigment behind the blueberries’ signature indigo hue. Blueberries also contain two other essential antioxidants, quercetin and myricetin, as well as other helpful nutrients such as fiber, iron, zinc, and many other skin-friendly vitamins and minerals.
Antioxidants: Blueberries’ Secret Weapon
You’ve heard that antioxidants fight free radicals, but what does this mean in practical terms for your skin? For starters, anthocyanin boosts collagen synthesis. Collagen keeps your skin supple and healthy, and blueberry consumption has been linked to a reduced rate of collagen breakdown. Additionally, antioxidants fight general inflammation, cutting down on redness and swelling resulting from skin problems like acne and psoriasis. The reduction in inflammation resulting from blueberry consumption may delay the appearance of wrinkles.
Finally, the antioxidants in blueberries help fight the aging process. Aging leads to weakening defenses against free radicals in your skin cells. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, the aging process becomes apparent. Thanks to the neutralizing effects of antioxidants, however, eating blueberries can slow this process.
Other Skin Benefits
Aside from antioxidants, you can reap a myriad of other potential health benefits from eating blueberries. Eating blueberries can lead to better heart health, and therefore, better circulation. How does this affect your skin? By slowing the breakdown of capillaries, blueberries can fend off varicose veins and improve the delivery of nutrients to the skin, ensuring that your epidermis remains vibrant and smooth.
All out of orange juice? Never fear! A daily serving of blueberries contains at least 16% of your daily Vitamin C intake, which (not unlike antioxidants) can help your body produce more collagen. Furthermore, blueberries include fiber and low glycemic carbs. In addition to reducing the risk of cancer, the former can be extremely helpful in reducing acne breakouts. The latter is essential to a healthy gut microbiome, which is linked to a reduction in skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.
Incorporating Blueberries into Your Daily Routine
One thing to note about blueberries: you need to eat a lot to enjoy the benefits described above. A cup of blueberries (or approximately 100 grams) is considered one serving. To cut down on costs, you can always freeze blueberries after buying them in bulk. In addition, soaking the berries for a few seconds in a 10% vinegar bath can double their shelf life.
However, since blueberries can get expensive, you may wish to consider alternative ways to enjoy their benefits without breaking the bank. One potential approach is to apply them directly to your skin. However, experts have not arrived at a consensus about the usefulness of this technique. Some sources argue that applying blueberries directly to your skin can result in infection and worsening acne. Other sources support a DIY face mask made from ½ a cup of crushed blueberries and 1 cup of plain yogurt. Applying this mixture may improve skin irritations like acne. If you choose to try a DIY face mask, rinse your face with warm water about twenty minutes after applying. Please make sure to throw it out after one use to avoid bacterial growth. Beware though that the anthocyanin may stain your face blue!
A more stable topical alternative, however, would be to purchase an extract cream. Recommended highly by Boston dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, multiple studies have shown that blueberry extract creams effectively provide most of the skin health benefits considered above and may be more affordable than consuming a cup of blueberries per day. If you choose to invest in an extract cream, be sure to apply it consistently for several weeks before you expect to see results. Consider asking your dermatologist about blueberry extract products that are right for your skin type/skin condition.
Getting the Best Out of Your Berries
Next time you find yourself shopping for a healthier midnight snack, consider picking up a carton or two of blueberries. Not only are these tiny delights tasty, but they’re also bundles of nutrients that contribute positively to the wellbeing of your skin. Blueberries can genuinely be called the skincare superfood—indeed, an indispensable addition to your healthy diet!