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September 16th, 2011
02:32 PM ET

What can I eat to keep my skin looking younger?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Ryan L. of Los Angeles:

What can I eat to keep my skin looking younger?

Expert answer:

Hi Ryan.

This is a terrific question. Many of my friends and patients spend hundreds of dollars every year on facial creams to prevent skin aging, but most don't pay nearly as much attention to the impact that what they eat has on their skin.

Two of the most important aspects of eating for beautiful skin are controlling inflammation, which can accelerate aging throughout your body, and eating a phytonutrient (plant based) and anti-oxidant rich diet to help fight the daily environmental assault that your skin faces.

In addition, limiting sugar intake is critical as sugar causes damage to the collagen in your skin which can lead to wrinkles and skin aging. Your diet should regularly include plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, especially the dark green leafy vegetables, orange-colored fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats like salmon and avocado.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., board certified Dermatologist and nutritionist, anti-aging expert and the best selling author of Forever Young , also highly recommends including the following three things in your diet on a regular basis if your goal is to improve your skin.

1. Green tea – This healthy beverage is not only good for your heart, it contains a powerful polyphenol, EGCG, which helps boost detoxification, protects skin from UV rays, and even appears to reactivate dying skin cells in laboratory studies. Sip several cups daily for best results.

2. Watercress – Not only is watercress a natural diuretic and loaded with phytonutrients, research suggests that it may be cancer protective as well. Toss in your favorite salad a few times a week (or more) for clear, radiant skin.

3. Berries – These deeply colored fruits are not only good for your brain and heart, they contain very high levels of anthocyanins, which are potent phytonutrients that can help protect your skin from premature aging at the cellular and molecular (DNA) level.

Finally, don't forget to wear sunscreen, avoid smoking, and control stress if you want to keep your face (and the rest of your body) in top shape.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.