7 Best Food Sources To Help Boost Collagen
Collagen is key for keeping a youthful appearance. Find out which foods are the best sources for this rich protein.
By Brandi Black, RHN
When it comes to keeping your skin youthful, your diet may be the most effective “wellness product” to support the healthy aging process. The key is finding the best collagen food sources and adding them to your healthy lifestyle.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a gelatin-like protein that keeps our skin plump and supple, and also makes up parts of our muscles, bones, blood vessels, organs, and connective tissues. Collagen is one of the most prevalent proteins found in the human body. Without collagen, we wouldn’t be much more than a “blob,” which is why collagen is often referred to as “the glue” that holds us together. People often refer to collagen as the protein that keeps skin tight, stretchy, and youthful-looking, but it can also impact the comfort of joints and strength of muscles as well.
Our bodies naturally produce collagen, but as age, we produce less. This is when the skin starts to lose its elasticity, and when fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear. Many experts suggest we begin to lose collagen production as early as age 25, while others recommend adopting an anti-aging skin care regimen as early as age 20. To supplement those expensive skin care treatments, your skin health could easily be supported based on what you put on your plate.
Your body can create collagen by combining amino acids from the foods you eat to create the necessary protein.
Now, it’s true that most foods don’t contain collagen protein, but there are several foods rich in amino acids, antioxidants and other nutrients, that may help support the body’s collagen production. Here are the 7 best food sources for stimulating collagen production, and when eaten regularly, can help you maintain healthy skin at any age.
Kiwi is rich in the antioxidant vitamin C, which is one of the most important nutrients for collagen production. Vitamin C helps connect several amino acids together to form collagen.
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C may also help with fine lines and wrinkles. It does this by helping the body neutralize free radicals that can be absorbed through the skin. There's also evidence that vitamin C may promote faster wound healing and repair (typically slowed by a lack of collagen), which makes it a valuable vitamin and nutrient for all around healthier skin.
You can add kiwi to your green smoothies or smoothie bowls, and use dehydrated or raw kiwi as a natural sweetener for healthy dessert recipes. You can also add kiwi to your favorite chia seed pudding recipes, fresh pressed juices and fruit salads. Kiwi is also great to snack on alone: cut in half and scoop out of the skin with a spoon or peel and slice for the perfect afternoon snack.
Vitamin C is also found abundantly in berries and citrus fruits such as pomegranate, lemon and lime, as well as strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. Berries also provide high levels of antioxidants to protect your skin against further damage. Combining all of these ingredients into a smoothie or fruit salad recipe makes for one powerful— and 100% natural— “skin food” recipe.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
What does 'cruciferous' mean? It's just a fancy name of the vegetables that come from the Brassicaceae family (another fancy name). These vegetables include brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and cabbage. Think leafy greens. These vegetables are rich in sulfur, a trace mineral that has been shown to hold collagen links together.
Sulfur is also needed to help with the body's detoxification process. Another great source of sulfur is garlic, which can easily be added to pasta, meats, dips, and even breads.
A quick note about cruciferous vegetables, while cruciferous vegetables are one of nature’s best foods for detoxification, the tough fiber they contain can be difficult for some people to digest and breakdown, causing gas, cramping and bloating. Steaming or lightly sautéing cruciferous vegetables in coconut oil is easier on digestion.
Along with cruciferous vegetables, add tomatoes and bell peppers into your diet. High in Vitamin C and antioxidant benefits, these foods pair well with your leafy greens for a hearty, collagen boosting salad. Throw in mushrooms and pumpkin seeds to eat an added dose of collagen-friendly zinc.
The amazing green superfood, chlorella, may be Mother Nature’s best kept secret for supporting healthy-looking, glowing skin.
Chlorella contains several nutrients that may be helpful in supporting your body’s natural collagen production, but perhaps the most powerful nutrient found in chlorella is Chlorella Growth Factor, or CGF. Chlorella is the only food to contain this powerful component, which helps chlorella rapidly grow and multiply by 4 every 20-24 hours.
The reason why CGF is so great for skin health is because it contains nucleic acids, which may support cellular repair and regeneration for happier, healthier-looking skin. Chlorella also contains other skin supportive nutrients such as chlorophyll and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may play a role in supporting your normal collagen production, while chlorophyll provides support to your body’s natural waste elimination process.
Chlorella is most commonly taken as a nutritional supplement, but you can add Sun Chlorella Powder to your smoothies and raw food recipes just as easily. You can also add an extra boost of Chlorella Growth Factor to your diet by using Sun Wakasa Gold Plus for concentrated CGF power!
For maximum absorption, be sure to get a pulverized cell wall chlorella whether in tablet, powder or granule form. Sun Chlorella pioneered the chlorella cell wall pulverization method and has been the leading chlorella brand since 1969 for its quality, absorption, and research. Sun Chlorella wants to ensure you get the most benefit possible from your chlorella supplement.
4. Grass-Fed Meat and Wild Salmon
Grass-fed meat and wild salmon are excellent sources of zinc, a mineral that’s known for boosting immune system health, and also plays a role in collagen production. Think of the connective tissues you cut through when cooking raw chicken, those tissues are all made with collagen!
Grass-fed meats (such as turkey, chicken, bison and beef) and wild fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are also high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are the building blocks of healthy skin cells. Since essential fats are oily in nature, they help keep skin cells moisturized, and promote a healthy glow from the inside out.
We recommend choosing grass-fed meat and wild fish over factory farmed animal products whenever possible. Factory farmed meats sometimes contain hormones and antibiotics, which may affect your health and natural wellness. Overall wellness will affect your collagen production as well as the strength of your cells and total appearance.
Plan out meals to include these grass-fed meats and wild fatty fish to ensure you are taking advantage of your diet throughout the week.
5. Green Tea and White Tea
Studies suggest the antioxidants found in green and white tea may help prevent or “block” collagen breakdown. White tea is said to be higher in antioxidants than green tea and may even destroy the specific enzymes that breakdown collagen.
Brew a cup to have with breakfast or pickup an order from your local coffee shop or cafe throughout the day to boost the support of your system.
6. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts can help produce collagen. Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant, and has been shown to play a role in collagen production. Consuming Brazil nuts may help boost collagen easily, since the average person would only require 3 brazil nuts to meet their daily recommended selenium intake.
In addition to Brazil nuts, you can also get selenium from grass-fed meats, sardines and turkey.
Add Brazil nuts to your snack mixes for help with collagen production or eat by the handful for boosted antioxidant intake. You could even finely chop and use as a topping for a favorite dessert.
7. Bone Broth
Can bone broth increase your collagen?
Bone broth is an exception to the “most foods don’t contain collagen rule.” As one of the rare collagen food sources, bone broth is becoming well-known as a superfood for supporting healthy skin.
Bone broth is made by simmering bones, tendons and ligaments with water, vegetables and herbs for long periods of time (between 24-48 hours). The long simmer time of the bones allows the collagen, gelatin and amino acids to be fully released and easily absorbed by the body.
Bone broth offers one of the highest bioavailable forms of collagen for our bodies, meaning it's one of the easiest sources to breakdown and efficiently use. Eat bone broth alone like soup or add it to your favorite recipes for enriched flavor and nutrients.
Bone broth is easy to make at home and requires only a few simple ingredients— mostly bone scraps, leftover vegetables, water, and some patience. There are many simple bone broth recipes online, and health food stores often carry pre-packaged bone broth in the frozen section. When making your own, use bones from reputable butchers to ensure you are getting top quality benefits.
You can further promote healthy collagen levels by avoiding these offenders to your skin: refined sugar, refined flour and carbohydrates, excessive sun exposure and tobacco use.
It’s never too late to improve the appearance of your skin. By adding chlorella, antioxidant vitamins from chlorophyll, kiwi and citrus fruits, and superfoods such as bone broth to your diet, you may notice an improvement in your skin— and your overall health and wellness. After all, glowing skin is simply the result of eating a nutrient rich diet.
Author: Brandi Black, RHN