Collagen is the protein everyone’s talking about lately. Collagen occurs throughout the body and helps keep your skin, bones and connective tissues strong and healthy. However, production of this essential protein declines with age and exposure to triggers such as UV light, smoking and sugar. As we become increasingly interested in finding ways to maintain glowing skin and a youthful appearance, the collagen supplement industry has boomed — but experts say we can get enough collagen through a healthy diet.
Many people aren’t aware that the foods they eat can help their body produce more collagen, but before you go out and spend money on supplements, it’s undoubtedly worth adjusting your diet first. Several foods are naturally rich in collagen and can easily be incorporated into your meals as part of a healthy, balanced diet — here are some of our favourite options:
- Red Bell Peppers
Red peppers are rich in vitamin C, which stimulates collagen production and helps maintain your existing collagen. The body can’t produce vitamin C, so it’s vital to incorporate it into your diet. We love red peppers as a source of vitamin C because they’re inexpensive and easy to eat on their own or within your favourite dishes.
Meat-eaters can turn to this readily available white meat for collagen, as chicken contains lots of connective tissue, which is naturally collagen-rich. The lean protein in chicken is also a great source of amino acids and can help to build stronger muscles.
- Egg Whites
While an anti-wrinkle treatment could work wonders for your skin, did you know that egg whites also have the potential to keep you looking young? Egg whites contain lots of proline, which is a building block for protein. Proline is one of the amino acids required by the body for collagen production, so increasing your intake could provide the collagen boost you’re looking for. Whip up your egg whites in an omelette, eat them scrambled or blend them into a smoothie for an easy way to add them to your diet.
- Citrus Fruits
If you’re a fan of citrus, the good news is that your favourite fruits can also help with collagen production. Like red peppers, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are all full of vitamin C.
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that garlic can boost the body’s collagen levels — but you may need to consume a lot of it to reap the benefits. Garlic is high in sulphur, which helps to synthesise and prevent collagen breakdown, keeping your skin plump and youthful-looking.
- Leafy Greens
As well as being a staple part of any healthy diet, leafy greens may also offer benefits for your skin. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are full of skin-boosting goodies such as vitamin K, potassium and folate and are high in chlorophyll, which is thought to increase the precursor to collagen in the skin.
Next time you’re looking for a healthy snack, you should consider cashews. Cashew nuts are rich in copper and vitamin C, which maintain collagen and elastin levels in the skin. They’re also full of antioxidants that help your skin regenerate more quickly — what’s not to love?
Finally, one of our favourite foods for boosting collagen is gelatin, packed with amino acids glycine and proline. Gelatin provides proteins that can boost your skin’s moisture levels and help the body build more collagen, keeping your skin healthy and happy. Gelatin can be added to desserts or stirred into sauces, gravies and smoothies, making it easy to add to your diet.