Who doesn't want to look better, on their way to living longer? A new study suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables, a mainstay of an anti-aging diet, can improve your skin color, too (at least for Caucasians).
The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, found that consuming carotenoids increases the redness and yellowness of skin. Carotenoids include beta-carotene and lycopene, and are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes, their characteristic dark color. The 35 subjects were primarily Caucasian undergraduate students who were tested for their fruit and vegetable intake over a 6-week period. The researchers, from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, suggest that these foods may affect the complexion through their pigment, or by improving blood circulation in the skin.
In addition, the study discovered that a complexion that was more reddish, or yellowish, was regarded as more attractive to the subjects, leading the authors to suggest that positive changes in appearance might offer greater motivation to eat more of these healthy foods. It's not the first time vanity has been suggested as a catalyst for lifestyle change; other research has indicated the power of using aged photos to prompt healthy behavior like quitting smoking. Perhaps the mirror is the best motivator, after all.
Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, Ozakinci G, Perrett DI (2012). "You Are What You Eat: Within-Subject Increases in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Confer Beneficial Skin-Color Changes." PLoS ONE 7(3): e32988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032988 http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0032988#cor1