If you know me by now (and follow me on Instagram), you know I’m a serious fruit queen. Thanks to my mom, I grew up loving fruits and munching on them everyday. It’s always been one Fuji apple a day, but ever since I moved back to Jakarta back in 2012, I’ve been enjoying tropical fruits much more regularly than ever before. Well, turns out they’ve got some serious benefits for the skin.
Before I go on, please note that my skin is far from flawless. I do get the you-look-young-for-your-age compliment when I go barefaced (I get 18 and 19. I’m actually 24), but that’s about it. I still have regular acne, the leftover scars, open pores, and loads of blackheads. However, I truly believe in approaching skincare from the inside-out, particularly because it will get you more lasting results. Rather than relying on a lot of expensive creams, you can nurture yourself and your skin to grow and learn to become more resilient, starting with the building blocks you choose to put in your mouth. It’s been proven too – researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have shown that just 6 weeks of eating the recommended 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day changes your complexion by giving it a healthier, more youthful glow. So literally, you are what you eat, and you’ll look better if you’re smart about what you eat.
So what exactly is behind fruits and vegs that changes everything? It’s called carotenoids, or compounds that give fruits and vegs their rich and vibrant pigments. They’re also precursors to many antioxidant activities (read: anti-aging) while they’re being digested in your body. Some common carotenoids include beta-carotene in carrots, lycopene in tomatoes, and lutein and zeaxanthin in plums and blueberries, and they’re also all great for your all-around health. Bear with me with these hard-to-pronounce terms, and I’m certainly no nutritionist. Just that it’s always exciting for me to read studies from the nutrition literature and learn how much what I’ve been putting on my plate has actually done me good.
Now let me share the tropical stuff that I’ve been instagramming from day one and how incorporating them daily (if possible for you) can make you younger, rosier, and radiant:
Otherwise called: Chinese gooseberry
Where it’s mostly grown: Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, France1
Skin benefits: The fuzzy stuff is loaded with vitamin C per serving (more than an orange) that helps to delay wrinkling, improve tone and texture, and renew damaged skin. Together with vitamin E, vitamin C and other potent phytonutrients in the fruit, kiwis also help retain the skin’s natural moisture barrier and fight against free radicals, revealing a softer, firmer, younger-looking skin.
Affectionately called: Fruit of the angels by Christopher Columbus
Where it’s mostly grown: Brazil (and the rest of the Latin Americas), India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Africa
Skin benefits: Papayas are rich in skin-toning vitamin A and contain a unique enzyme, the papain, that brightens your skin by removing dead skin cells and breaking down inactive proteins of the skin (think all that gunk from your clogged up pores). If you’re always tired and clouded with a dull look, the fruit is your natural exfoliant, thanks to its alpha-hydroxy acids (the AHA ingredient you usually find in fruity exfoliators). Make it your go-to snack and rub your face with the ripe fruit often to reveal a cleaner, fresher complexion.
Otherwise called: Pitaya, Pitahaya, buah naga (Indonesian)
Where it’s mostly grown: The Central Americas, Indonesia, and the larger Southeast Asia region, including Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka
Skin benefits: Retain your youthful appearance longer by regularly snacking on dragonfruit – it’s rich in antioxidants that help keep the skin firm. Because it’s cooling, dragonfruit also helps soothe sunburned skin, thanks to the healing effects of vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, and B3 in the fruit that boost skin metabolism. Dragonfruit seeds also contain essential fatty acids that our bodies can’t make on our own, so chow on the whole fruit as much as possible to achieve that dewy and hydrated look.
Affectionately called: King of fruits, although durian lovers may disagree
Where it’s mostly grown: India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico3
Skin benefits: Now I feel this would really help those who have oily skin and are prone to blemishes. I know this because my skin is just like yours: What makes mangoes so effective for controlling acne is the load of beta-carotene in it, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. If you’re like me and you’re not particularly fond of raw carrots, then fresh mangoes will become your go-to to get your beta-carotene fix.
The pretty fruit goes well beyond pimple-clearing – it’ll get you covered from other common symptoms of oily and sensitive skins – everything from rejuvenating dull skin to giving you overall sebum control. Also, the more frequent you snack on mangoes, the more vibrant your complexion becomes over time. These pulpy goodness contains the AHAs in papayas that help skin cells to regenerate faster and the high vitamin C in kiwis to restore skin elasticity. You get the best of both worlds (tastes sooo good and works a glow to your skin like a magic wand).
5. Dragonfruit + Mango combo
Why I repeat them: They’re the bomb together for your taste buds and your skin.
Why I really repeat them: I’m proud of this picture ;p
Why they’re worth the repeat: Mangoes are warming and dragonfruits are cooling – it’s like yin and yang to balance your qi. Also, I’m #proudtobeindonesian, because Indonesia is a minestone for dragonfruit and mango cultivation.
6. Tart cherries
Otherwise called: Prunus avium (scientific name). There are sweet cherries (also called wild cherries) and sour cherries (also called tart cherries). To maximize on the fruit’s skin-boosting effect, always pick the sour variety.
Where it’s mostly grown: Turkey, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Iran4
Skin benefits: We already know they’re great for treating insomnia because it’s rich in melatonin, but the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries don’t stop there – melatonin has been shown to protect against UV rays, the stuff from the sun and other bright lights that causes blotchiness and premature aging.
Acne-prone skin and rosacea sufferers can also benefit a lot from munching on these dark cherries regularly, thanks to the anthocyanins content and other bioflavonoids in cherries. Anthocyanins are compounds that give fruits and veggies their deep and dark hues (unlike the vibrant pigments from carotenoids), and they’re only going to improve the integrity of the skin – they reduce overall inflammation in the body, and since inflammation is often a precursor of acnes, enlarged pores, and comedones, a daily serving of cherries can help clear up all these problems over time.
Which of these fruits are you bulking up this fall?
P.S. See what fruits are in season with this chart. When you eat seasonally, you reap the most beauty benefits of these fruits.