I know which creams to buy to keep my skin looking young and I try to eat well to boost my antioxidants. Are there any natural foods that have anti-ageing properties that will benefit my skin?

Skin reflects overall health so foods that benefit your overall health are likely to also benefit your skin. Healthy skin has a natural colour and glow produced by the combination of red from haemoglobin in the blood, brown from melanin produced by melanocytes in the epidermis and orange/yellow from carotenoids in subcutaneous fat. Carotenoids are fat-soluble, red orange and yellow anti-oxidants that provide natural sun protection. Beta carotene is the most important carotenoid for skin as it protects the skin from sun damage as well as being converted into vitamin A which is essential for healthy skin, hair and eyes.

Beta carotene is present in orange coloured foods such as carrots, pumpklin, sweet potato, apricots, mangos, oranges etc. as well as being present in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach making all these foods contribute to healthy skin. The highest natural source of beta carotene is the marine phytoplankton known as Dunaliella salina which produces massive amounts of beta carotene in response to the stress of high salt environments. Dunalella Salina can be taken as an organically grown, whole-food supplement (Algotene), with two to three grams a day providing limited sun protection as well as acting as a source of vitamin A.

In addition to carotenoid-rich, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, water is vitally important for keeping the skin hydrated and aiding excretion of toxins, Recent research also suggest that in addition to its many other benefits, long-term intake of dark chocolate may improve skin blood flow, hydration and elasticity while also reducing roughness and scaling and contributing to natural sun protection.