Five best and worst foods for ageing

What to eat and what to avoid for a youthful complexion

Blackcurrants in bowl outdoors


You know that eating a balanced diet is important for your health – but did you know that eating certain foods can speed up the ageing process, while others can promote a youthful complexion? Read on for the top foods to avoid and the best to eat to combat ageing.

See also: Eight steps to younger-looking skin

See also: Five acne-fighting foods for clearer skin

1. Sugar
Eating too much sugar isn't just bad for your teeth and your waist line. Research shows that sugar produces harmful molecules in the body called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are bad news for the skin, as they break down collagen and elastin, speeding up the ageing process.

2. Red meat
Red meat cooked at high temperatures is another potential source of harmful AGEs. Processed meat, such as bacon, is also high in nitrate which can weaken collagen and cause wrinkles.

3. Crisps
Eating too much salt can lead to water retention, which can cause bloating and puffy appearance. Crisps, along with many other processed and packaged foods, are one of the worst offenders. Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – check food labels to see how much you're consuming.

4. White bread and rice cakes
Refined carbs that are high on the glycaemic index (GI) are broken down quickly by the body, raising blood-sugar levels. As we know, too much glucose breaks down collagen, causing wrinkles and sagging skin. Swap white rice, pasta and bread for brown versions and avoid white crackers and rice cakes.

5. Alcohol
Alcohol dehydrates the skin, like it does the rest of the body, and can lead to wrinkles and premature ageing. Drinking too much can also cause bloating and dark circles under your eyes – not a good look.
Aim to keep within recommended guidelines – no more than 14 units a week and opt for low-sugar drinks such as gin and slimline tonic.

Best anti-ageing foods to eat
According to dermatologists, eating a varied, balanced Mediterranean-style diet that's high in antioxidant-rich fruit, vegetables, nuts, oily fish and wholegrains, is best for your skin. These foods in particular are worth adding to the menu...

1. Blackcurrants
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that fights free radical molecules that cause oxidative cell damage and premature ageing of the skin. Blackcurrants contain four times as much vitamin C as oranges and are packed with antioxidant flavonoids that combat age-related inflammation and help protect collagen from oxidative damage.

Blackcurrants help to improve blood circulation, and according to researchers in Japan, this has also has the benefit of reducing dark under-eye circles.

2. Salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and pilchards, aren't just good for your brain and heart – they can help your skin look young too. The healthy fats they contain help to improve the skin-cell membrane, improving skin smoothness and texture, and reducing excessive inflammation, a leading cause of premature ageing.

3. Pomegranates
Packed with vitamin C, pomegranates are another wonder food for the skin. The fruit's seeds contain a powerful cocktail of antioxidants that mop up free radicals – including punicalagins and anthocyanins, and UV protective gallic acid and ellagic acid.

4. Almonds
Vitamin E is important for supple, smooth skin, and almonds are a great source. Packed with vitamin E, healthy oils and amino acids that nourish the skin, almonds are also a good source of copper, which stimulates melanin production to help protect against ageing UV rays.

5. Avocados
Is there no end to the wonders of avocado? The creamy fruit is rich in vitamin E, and packed with healthy fats that help calm inflammation and keep the skin plump. Avocados also contain antioxidant carotenoids that combat free radical damage and help to maintain a youthful complexion.