As a writer of healthy foods, I have heard before that some foods can be the culprits of acne. In high school, the teen boys I read loved to make the connection between oily food and boobs. And (many) years later, at Well + Good, a colleague was surprised that she was giving up dairy to get rid of her recurrent outbreaks.
Across the spectrum, registered nutritionist Meg Hager, "The Greek Goddess," an acne snack that includes figs, olives and plum will definitely not cause breakthroughs, she says.
I reached out to find out how this simple breakfast, approved by the Mediterranean diet, is linked to clearer skin. Hagar tells me that a nutritional combination has three important factors against acne. First, it's low glycemic. "This means that it prevents blood sugar from falling too high. When this happens, a number of internal events in the body can lead to too much oil production," Hagar says. Second, it is high in fiber. "Fibers are great for maintaining a healthy state, but for acne sufferers who specifically support the body's natural detox processes are vital," she says. "Fiber helps increase gut motility and having one or more quality bowel movements every day is essential for healthy and clear skin." And third, Hagar says the snack is packed with protective and anti-inflammatory antioxidants and polyphenols which help reduce inflammation in general, including the skin.
Here, Hagar – along with two other experts – break down why figs, olives and plums. in particular, they are such superstars for fighting acne.
"Figs are also packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation and stimulate detoxification," Hagar says. Registered nutritionist Kayla Newcombe, RD, adds that whether fresh or dried, figs provide a variety of minerals for skin health, including potassium, a vital electrolyte to keep your skin hydrated. She also reiterates what Hagar says about the importance of fiber. "Getting enough fiber into your diet can help remove excess hormones or toxins from your body, which can cause skin to explode," she says.
Because acne is a direct response to inflammation, Hagar says it makes sense for anti-inflammatory foods to help prevent it, including olives. "Olives have a unique combination of powerful components called polyphenols. The specific polyphenols in olives have actually been shown to reduce systemic inflammation in the body," she says. "Powerful antioxidants and oils are good for skin and hair, giving us a radiant appearance," adds dermatologist Amanda Doyle. Newcombe points out that olives also contain vitamins A and E, which can help prevent pimples and keep skin soft.
DR. Doyle, Hagar and Newcomb all recommend plums for skin health for the same reason as olives: they are a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols. Newcomb explains that the deep purple color in the fused skin is anthocyanins, a pigment with strong antioxidant properties. "Anthocyanins give this fruit its luminous skin properties, protecting your skin from damage and helping to control inflammation, soothe skin redness," she says.
Another reason plums are food for acne is because of their high vitamin C content. "Vitamin C is important for maintaining skin structure – consider treating acne scars," Hagar says.
So there it is: Easy anti-inflammatory breakfast. Another trophy that the Mediterranean diet can add to its collection.
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