15 Foods That Fight Breakouts

If you’re craving clear, smooth skin (and who isn’t?), you don’t have to spend a fortune on cleansers and creams. In fact, you might already have everything you need to battle blemishes in a surprising place: your fridge. Turns out, what you put in your mouth is as important as what you slather on your face when it comes to curing and preventing common complexion woes.

We all heard this advice as teenagers—to try to fight breakouts by swearing off french fries or chocolate chip ice cream (I know, painful then and now!). But researchers are beginning to hone in on exactly which foods have acne-fighting powers, and lucky for me, they happen to be some of my favorites (Nuts! Spinach!). So if it’s flawless skin you seek, don’t think about what you can’t eat—toss these yummy bites in your shopping cart and try SELF’s delicious recipes to be your most beautiful inside and out.

Nibbles with Zinc

My go-to snack, almonds are rich in zinc, which may help banish existing blemishes and prevent new ones from forming. The mineral works to reduce inflammation to shrink bumps, and it also slows sebum production to reduce shine and prevent more breakouts from forming. Munch on a handful, or toss them into a savory Almond-Pear Galette.

Great sources of zinc:

1. almonds
2. baked beans
3. beef
4. chickpeas
5. oysters
6. pumpkin seeds

Snacks with Carotenoids

Mango packs powerful pigments called carotenoids that turn into vitamin A inside your body. Think of A as kryptonite for acne. It attacks blemishes in three ways: reducing inflammation, encouraging cell turnover (aka natural exfoliations) and strengthening your skin’s defense against bacteria. All of that can add up to clean, clear pores that are less prone to pimples. Spoon up some mango sorbet, or try this refreshing Mango and Melon Dessert.

Great sources of carotenoids:

 7. mango
 8. cantaloupe
 9. carrots
10. spinach
11. sweet potatoes
12. tomatoes

Fare with Fiber

If you really want to clear up unsightly spots, it’s time to give up the white starches: When people cut refined carbs from their diet in favor of high-fiber grains like brown rice, they had half as many blemishes after 12 weeks, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper reports. Eating unhealthy carbs, such as white bread, cookies and pastries, signals the pancreas to send out a surge of insulin. This triggers a hormone-level change in your body that increases oil production and tells cells to multiply, all of which jams pores. But the fiber in whole grains helps your body absorb and burn carbs more slowly, which keeps blood sugar and insulin levels steady. Experiment with brown rice in Sweet and Sour Chicken With Short-Grain Brown Rice and Baby Spinach.

Great sources of fiber:

13. brown rice
14. whole-grain bread
15. popcorn

Take us on your next grocery run! Print out our shopping list of over 35 foods for clear, glowing skin.

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