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Wholesome Diet May Prevent Wrinkles


A fountain of youth may be as close as the kitchen, new study findings suggest. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and unsaturated fats may ward off wrinkles by boosting the skin's natural defenses against sun damage.

In an international study of eating patterns and skin aging, investigators found that dark- and fair-skinned people who ate plenty of wholesome foods but passed on butter, red meat and sugary confections were less prone to wrinkling. And the effect of diet was consistent from sun-drenched Australia to sun-deprived Sweden.

Some of the skin-smoothing foods included green leafy vegetables, beans, olive oil, nuts and multigrain breads, researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Many of the skin-protecting foods the study turned up are rich in antioxidant vitamins, which may fend off environmental damage, according to researchers.

They studied the current diets of more than 400 adults aged 70 and older living in Australia, Greece or Sweden. The Australian group included both fair-skinned "Anglo-Celtic" individuals and Greek-born men and women. The researchers found that even when they factored in age and smoking--which is linked to premature skin aging--diet still played a role in wrinkling of sun-exposed skin.

Overall, people who ate more of the foods that are universally recommended for good health had smoother skin. The study authors speculate that certain foods offered skin protection due to their high levels of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E. The skin, they note, is a "major target of oxidative stress."

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil may offer protection through the same mechanism. Fatty acids are present in the skin, and monounsaturated fats resist oxidative damage, the researchers said.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20:71-80.