The kernels of truth behind “eating for beauty” – Food Dive

The concept of “beauty from within” has set root in store aisles. The food and beverage industry is witnessing an increasing number of product launches across categories incorporating collagen, zinc, vitamin E and more that promise to enhance physical appearance and prevent or reduce the effects of aging.

According to a 2020 Global Industry Analysts report by Research and Markets, the global market for anti-aging products is projected to reach a revised size of $83 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.8% over 2020-2027.

Some brands are taking the helm to educate about specific ingredient benefits. Re:THINK offers lactose-free ice cream infused with collagen, which is linked to improved skin elasticity and stronger hair and nails. Sakara’s Beauty Super Bar promises to support skin elasticity, reduce pigmentation, reduce skin imperfections and increase luminosity.

Products supported by research stand to benefit from credibility. During an Almond Essentials podcast episode with Dr. Swati Kalgaonkar, Associate Director of Nutrition Research at the Almond Board of California, Dr. Raja Sivamani, associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, Davis, shared that from a clinical perspective, patients want to know how they can take skin health into their own hands with easy, natural methods.

“I’m very interested in bringing traditional knowledge into the modern research paradigm so that we can come up with new concepts and ideas for how we can approach the skin,” said Sivamani, who has led two first-of-their-kind studies to examine almonds’ effects on skin health.

For consumers seeking an easy, natural approach to nutrition and well-being, almonds are an ideal ingredient due to their nutrient package including 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of good unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat, essential fatty acids, polyphenols1, magnesium, copper, and antioxidant vitamin E in each serving.

Sivamani and his team set out to first examine almonds and wrinkles, recruiting a group of 28 healthy, postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 (characterized by increased tendency to burn with sun exposure) and randomly assigning them to one of two groups. One group ate almond snacks comprising 20% of their total daily energy, and the other group ate a calorie-matched nut-free snack. The team followed the study subjects for 16 weeks, assessing facial wrinkles with high-resolution facial imaging and validated 3D facial modeling and measurement.

“We picked postmenopausal women because that’s the period of life when the hormones are really shifting, where wrinkles tend to accelerate,” said Sivamani. “We also looked at people that had much more susceptible skin— people that have lighter skin that gets damaged much more easily or that has undergone more collagen damage over the course of a lifetime.” The team then used high-resolution facial imaging to take photos of each subject during each visit over the 16-week period.

The pilot, randomized controlled study found that a daily snack of almonds in place of other nut-free snacks improved measures of wrinkle width and severity in postmenopausal women. “What we found was that after 16 weeks, the women in the almond supplementation group had about a 9% improvement in the appearance of their wrinkle severity and wrinkle width, which is very interesting because we controlled it,” he noted. “The other group that didn’t get the almonds had no change over time. We found it very exciting, though you never want to make too many conclusions based on a pilot study.”

The promising results spurred a follow-up study exploring the impact of daily almond snacking on not only facial wrinkles, but also overall skin pigmentation in postmenopausal women. This time, a larger sample of 49 postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 were randomly assigned to an almond snacking or control group and followed for a longer period.

For that study, researchers found a statistically significant 16% reduction in wrinkle severity as well as a 24% improvement in overall skin pigmentation— also known as skin tone— in the group consuming almonds over a 24-week period.

It’s important to note that neither study sought to identify which specific nutrients in almonds may be playing a role. Almonds are rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which may help protect people from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays, pollution, cigarette smoke and other environmental and intrinsic factors.

Though more research is warranted to continue investigating almonds’ role in other areas of skin health, almonds remain a smart choice for overall good nutrition.

  1. Milbury, P.E.; Chen, C.; Dolnikowski, G.; Blumberg, J. Determination of flavonoids and phenolics and their distribution in almonds. J. Agric. Food Chem, 2006, 54,5027-5023.


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