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Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the Answer to Ageless Skin

“You are what you eat” is probably one of the most common phrases we come across. We know McDonald’s and whole foods are not created equal. Regardless, the food you choose to eat will affect your body one way or another. This is not only true for our overall well-being, but it’s also true for your skin health (1).

How your diet affects your skin

It’s known that vitamins A, C, and E are the best nutrients for healthy skin (1). Our skin is like our shield that protects our delicate organs. Without skin, we’d burn alive. Though its function sounds like a tough job, our skin is highly sensitive to environmental stress, mainly from oxidation damage by ultraviolet light through sun exposure. As a result, we lose elasticity in our skin and that's why we develop wrinkles.

A study that evaluated skin wrinkling in sun-exposed areas and dietary intake has suggested that diets high in monounsaturated fats can best protect against oxidative stress. In this study, researchers conducted questionnaires and skin tests to examine how a diet that is rich in antioxidants can affect the production of wrinkles on sun-exposure areas across people living in different ethnic groups. Anglo-Celts Australians whose diet mostly consist of full-fat milk, red meat, potatoes, soft drinks, and pastries had the most skin wrinkling compared to Greeks who lived in Melbourne. On the other hand, Swedish elderly living in Sweden, who consumed more vegetables, olive oil, monounsaturated acids, legumes, and fewer milk products showed fewer wrinkles in sun-exposed skin (2). 

Notice how the Swedish elderly have fewer wrinkles than other groups? Researchers noticed that Swedish elderly have consumed a higher intake of monounsaturated fat, especially through olive oils.

How does extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) reduce wrinkles? 

When you pour olive oil into a white plate you are going to notice that olive oil has a green tint in addition to its dark yellow color. What gives olive oil its color is its pigments, which are surprisingly beneficial to us too. The green color comes from chlorophyll while the yellow color comes from carotenoids. It acts as an antioxidant in our body, by absorbing light and minimizing the damage caused by oxidative stress (3). For example, a carotenoid compound called Lutein found in olive oil works really well with lycopene, in tomatoes to prevent skin aging. 

So, if you want a youthful, wrinkle-free skin in your 60s, be sure to start eating more vegetables and using extra virgin olive oil in your recipes for extra protection! 

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Written by Nitchamon Chuajedton
Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.