It might make you shudder, or think of something you were forced to eat when very young, but bone broth is brilliant for boosting collagen production. The process of simmering bones in water is believed to extract the collagen from them. Add seasoning and spices to taste and you’ll have a tasty and collagen-rich meal.
If you read the label on commercial collagen supplements, you’ll probably see that many derive from chicken. This is because chicken, particularly the connective tissue, is a very rich source of collagen. Whether you like your chicken roasted, fried or stewed, cooking your own is a quick and delicious route to that all-important collagen.
Egg whites obviously don’t contain the connective tissue where collagen tends to be found. However, they are filled with an amino acid called proline, which is essential for the production of collagen. Increase your body’s ability to generate its own collagen by enjoying a lunchtime omelette or breakfast scrambled eggs.
Vitamin C is another essential ingredient in your body’s recipe for making its own collagen. Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges, are one of the tastiest ways of ensuring that you meet your daily vitamin C needs. Remember that your body is unable to store excess vitamin C, so you need to eat it every day.
The word “superfood” gets bandied around too easily at times. However, if anything deserves the tag, it’s a bowl of berries. Even richer in vitamin C than citrus fruits, they’re a fantastic way of giving your body what it needs to produce the pro-collagen that will eventually become collagen itself.
Marine collagen is widely regarded as easy to absorb. Whatever the truth of that, fish is packed with collagen. While it’s the bones, scales and eyeballs that contain the highest levels, you’ll still derive some benefit if you restrict yourself to your usual fillets. So much the better if you can also crunch up some crispy collagen-rich skin.
As well as flavoring pasta dishes and stir fries, this pungent member of the onion family is thought to help the body conserve collagen. Garlic contains high levels of sulfur, which may help the body to synthetize collagen. Just as crucially, it may also hamper the breakdown of collagen. Of course, you may need to consume more than is socially acceptable to reap the maximum benefits – so be sure to carry mints!
Many leguminous plants have seeds contained inside fleshy pods. It is these pods that we call beans – and not all of them come in tins with commercially-prepared tomato sauce. Whether you like pinto, navy, haricot, kidney or fava beans, eating them means that you’re consuming many of the amino acids essential for collagen synthesis.
This popular snack food is more than a way to keep your hands busy and your tummy full while you watch TV. More than most other nuts, cashews have particularly high levels of copper and zinc, both of which are known to augment the body’s ability to synthesize collagen.
The health-boosting benefits of leafy greens are many and varied. The key to their power is the rich color that gives them their name. Leafy greens are green thanks to their high levels of chlorophyll. As well as possessing antioxidant properties that assists with the removal of skin-damaging free radicals, chlorophyll helps boost the initiation of the body’s collagen-production process.
All bell peppers, no matter their color, are good for you because they all contain beta-carotene, which is known to play a role in collagen synthesis. However, when it comes to helping your body synthesize more collagen, red bell peppers are best of all. Red bell peppers have particularly high levels of vitamin C, another important component for the collagen synthesis process.
Sweet and very nutritious, guava fruits come in different varieties, each of which has a slightly different flavor. From a nutrient point of view, each is jam-packed with many of the vitamins that are so crucial for collagen production. Each fruit also contains a good dose of antioxidants, another important ally against skin-aging.
Delicious when eaten raw, mango is also perfect for nutrient-rich smoothies. The fruit contains a smorgasbord of vitamins, including vitamins C, A and B6. Each of these, in different ways, supports the maintenance of high collagen levels in the skin. However, if you eat mango, don’t neglect the skin! It’s contains high levels of fiber, which is great for overall health.
Aloe vera juice
In its various forms, aloe vera has many uses: soothing sunburn, helping reduce acne outbreaks, and calming lichen planus to mention a few. However, aloe vera juice is particularly helpful if you’re looking to increase your collagen levels. Dermatology specialists currently consider a low daily dose, around 40 micrograms, to be the optimal intake.
A fruit, not a vegetable, tomatoes are high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production. For the highest levels of this vitamin, choose sun-dried tomatoes. What’s more, the tomato is an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant that’s known to play a part in preventing the breakdown of collagen.
Thanks to the sugar content, gummy candies probably aren’t the healthiest way of upping your collagen intake. However, they’re convenient, portable and good enough for those occasions when your diet might not be up to scratch. You’ll need to make sure you eat ones that are made with gelatin, as it’s this animal-derived gelling agent providing the collagen.
This long-standing tropical favorite, pineapple is good for more than just a refreshing beach snack. Just one cup of pineapple chunks will provide you with around a third of your body’s daily vitamin C needs. Pineapple is also the only fruit known to contain bromelain. Among other benefits, bromelain is thought to assist in skin healing following injury or surgery.
A single portion of this vegetable superfood provides you with almost your entire recommended daily dose of vitamin C, which is super essential for the synthesis of collagen within the body. Make sure you don’t over-boil your broccoli, as you lose key nutrients in the process. Remember, you can eat it cooked or raw!
Collagen is found in high concentrations in animal organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the heart and the brain. Not often eaten nowadays, organ meat is nonetheless tasty, nutritious and frequently cheaper than muscle meat. If you’re dubious about eating organs, steak and kidney pie is a good introduction – or you might like fried liver with onions.
Speciality smoothies, lattes and water are all options. Basically, what you’re looking for is a drink containing hydrolyzed collagen. Taken in this form, the collagen is easy for the body to absorb, maximizing the benefits to you. Some coffee shops and health food stores sell collagen-infused drinks, or you can buy collagen powder and make your own.
Perfect to sprinkle over cereal or to eat as a standalone snack, tiny chia seeds are filled with the omega-3 oils and amino acids that help support collagen synthesis and block its breakdown. They also blend well into your favorite smoothie, making them a very versatile addition to your collagen-boosting armoury.
Although any sort of fish is helpful if you’re wanting to increase your body’s collagen production, sardines deserve a special mention. Their skin and bones – both of which are typically eaten – are rich in collagen. Moreover, these little fish are just as rich in omega-3 oils, which will help your body create more of its own collagen supply.
For a fruit not much bigger than an average-sized hen’s egg, the kiwi is a powerhouse of nutrients. Its high levels of vitamins C and E are important in the fight against the premature development of fine lines and wrinkles. They also have a significant role to play in protecting the body’s collagen production processes.
Definitely not just to be scooped out and discarded at Halloween, pumpkin seeds truly are one of nature’s superfoods. Their amino acid content includes arginine, glycine, leucine, lysine and proline. Meanwhile, just one cup provides approximately 100% of daily copper requirements and 70% of zinc requirements. This combination is a massive asset in boosting collagen production.
One of the traditional foods for lovers, oysters are also valuable for anyone who’s concerned about their collagen levels. Extremely high levels of copper and zinc – both of which are minerals essential to collagen production – mean that there’s no need to wait for Valentine’s Day or a significant anniversary before indulging in a plate of fresh oysters.
You’ve probably already seen skincare containing avocado extract. This is because this fruit is rich in vitamin E, which helps protect the skin from antioxidants and sun damage. In the same way, eating the fruit will help your skin stay plumper, more radiant and, hopefully, youthful-looking.
Perhaps you already eat carrots with your eye health in mind. However, beta-carotene, or vitamin A, that does so much to protect vision also benefits the skin. It does this by increasing collagen production, improving blood flow to the skin and slowing the breakdown of both collagen and elastin.
With their high natural levels of fats and protein, flax seeds are an excellent source of the omega-3 oils essential for collagen production. As a bonus, they’re also packed with essential amino acids like leucine, lysine, glycine and proline. Gram for gram, they’re more nutrient-dense than other seeds, making them a great choice if you’re watching your weight.
OK, not the store-bought sort but, rather, a home-made, collagen-rich version of this tasty campfire favorite. Makes yours using gelatin, vanilla extract and sugar. If you prefer, you can swap in a sugar-substitute for the sugar. Once they’re ready, add them to your hot chocolate or grab the crackers and use them for s’mores.
Chicken noodle soup
Why not take bone broth up a notch and make a nutritious batch of chicken noodle soup? Flavorsome and comforting, it’s the perfect lunch for all the family and, thanks to its bone broth base, it’s rich with collagen. Go one step further and reduce the simple carbs by using spiralised zucchini in place of noodles.
In warm weather, bone broth and soups start to look less appealing. Step forward orange jello! This childhood favorite is the perfect summertime treat for people of all ages – especially anyone looking to boost their body’s collagen production. For maximum health benefits, you’ll need to make your own. It takes just two ingredients: orange juice and gelatin.
An algae, spirulina is one of the less-commonly consumed sources of dietary collagen. An excellent source of protein, especially for plant-based folk, spirulina is rich in proline and glycine. Together, these two amino acids are essential for collagen formation. They also promote gut health, facilitating the absorption of nutrients. Spirulina is available in powder and capsule forms.
Properly called the “Tremella mushroom”, snow fungus is popular in both Chinese cookery and medicine. Sometimes also referred to as “the fountain of youth”, it’s long been recognised for the role it plays in promoting skin health. With more than a dozen amino acids, it’s a rich source of plant collagen and is particularly tasty when made into a soup.
Various trace minerals are essential if the body is to produce collagen. Almonds contain high levels of two of these minerals: zinc and copper – and both play known roles in collagen synthesis. Almonds are also rich in vitamin E. If you’ve ever used a face cream containing almond oil, you’ll probably know that vitamin E helps keep skin taut and plump.
Although only a trace mineral in the human body, copper is essential for the synthesis of collagen. As one of the richest natural sources of copper, snacking on walnuts is a great way to help ensure you consume adequate copper. Walnuts are also an excellent source of vegan amino acids, which are the building blocks of collagen production.
This legume is a rich source of many of the essential components of collagen production. Well-known as a protein-packed meat alternative, the high levels of vitamin C and A, copper, zinc, and proline in chickpeas make them ideal for anyone looking for plant-based sources of these nutrients.
Lean red meat
Meat is one of the richest sources of the amino acids and minerals needed in collagen production. Although bone broth and soups derived from bones are perhaps the top ways of benefitting from the collagen-boosting power of beef, pork, lamb and others, eating lean red muscle meat is also helpful.
The solidified resin from peach trees, peach gum is a traditional part of Chinese cuisine. It contains high levels of various amino acids that are essential to collagen production. Peach gum is easily absorbed by the human digestive system and is popularly eaten in a variety of ways. Look for recipes that include it in soups and desserts in particular.
Easily obtainable in most Chinese and Hispanic grocery stores, pig ears are a cheap but tasty way of eating a collagen-rich food. It’s the gristle in the ears that contains the collagen and also much of the flavor. Try eating pig ears stewed Shanghai-style with star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon and soy sauce.
As a connective tissue, beef tendon is naturally high in collagen. Not a typical component of most Western diets, you’ll find beef tendon frequently included in Chinese dishes and recipes. Although it’s low in fat and may seem fibrous to the uninitiated, boiling or stewing beef tendon for several hours can produce a dish that’s said to taste like a tender, high-fat cut of meat.
Love it or loathe it, pork crackling is an excellent way of helping your body increase its production of collagen. This is because pork skin is particularly rich in glycine, which is an essential component of collagen. Although the human body is capable of making its own glycine, it’s far more efficient to consume it.
Crab’s high zinc content make it a great addition to a diet geared towards boosting collagen production. Zinc is what is known as a “cofactor” in collagen synthesis, which means it’s an essential part of the manufacturing process. Furthermore, a zinc deficiency is known to have adverse effects on pre-existing collagen levels in the body.
If you ever needed an excuse to eat more chocolate, look no further! Thanks to its antioxidants, cocoa powder, especially when it’s transformed into dark chocolate, is hugely beneficial for the body’s collagen levels. The greatest benefits are seen from the darkest chocolate as these are the products with the highest cocoa concentration.
One of the most widely consumed and easily available mushrooms, portobello mushrooms are also fantastic for boosting collagen levels – and improving health in general. Nutrient-dense and yet low in calories, they are great at combatting the activities of skin-damaging free radicals. They are also rich in copper, which is a necessary part of the collagen synthesis process.
The orange color of the flesh of the sweet potato is an indication that it’s a superb source of vitamin A. Among its other roles, this vitamin is known to help preserve skin elasticity and to assist with the regeneration of collagen. As vitamin A is fat-soluble, it survives cooking well.
In the days before refrigeration, sailors on long voyages took lemons with them for one very good reason: the vitamin C content. Needed for a variety of essential bodily processes, vitamin C also plays an important part in synthesising collagen. As the human body cannot make its own vitamin C, it must form part of daily diet – and lemons are an ideal source.
Sweeter and with a more subtle flavor than regular onions, the shallot is a favorite of many cooks. As well as being potentially kinder on the post-meal breath of diners, shallots are also very nutritious. The benefit to including them in a collagen-friendly diet is largely due to their sulfur content – because sulfur assists with collagen production.
Just as almonds themselves are great inclusions for a diet aimed at boosting collagen production, so too is almond milk. As well as all the trace elements and vitamins present in the unprocessed nuts – zinc, copper and vitamin E – store-bought versions of the milk are good sources of vitamin D and calcium.
Whether you like your lentils blended into a soup, cooked into dal or included in a salad, this low-fat, high-protein legume is an excellent dietary addition. Its many benefits include a variety of collagen-boosting amino acids and vitamins. It also plays a crucial role in helping the body synthesise hyaluronic acid, which is known to have powerful anti-aging properties.
As with carrots and sweet potatoes, the vivid sunset color of an apricot is your heads-up that the fruit is rich in carotenoids. These are a type of antioxidant that has multiple health benefits, and this includes helping to repair collagen fibers damaged by UV radiation. It’s also thought to inhibit the activities of the collagen-degrading protein, elastase.
A traditional symbol of birth and death, the pomegranate is also one of the best fruit choices for anyone wanting to remain as youthful-looking as possible. It’s high in antioxidant polyphenols and a variety of vitamins essential to the production of collagen. The fruit is also a popular component of collagen supplements.
The health benefits of cranberries are well-known, especially to anyone accustomed to urinary tract infections. However, these little berries are also fantastic additions to a collagen-focused diet. They’re full of antioxidants and their natural diuretic effect means that they can also help flush out skin-damaging toxins. If drunk as juice, sugar-free formulations are far superior to more processed alternatives.
Like flaxseeds themselves, flax milk is an excellent source of antioxidants. It also helps boost collagen production and promotes more rapid skin cell turnover, which can lead to a smoother, more youthful-looking dermis. Although you can buy it, flax milk is easy to make at home, requiring just flax seeds, water and, if you wish, a little salt.
Long seen as a superfood on the Indian subcontinent, the many benefits of turmeric are now becoming clearly apparent to people elsewhere. These benefits include turmeric’s skin and wound-healing properties, which it owes to its ability to boost collagen deposits in skin cells. As well as adding turmeric to cooking, you could also try a turmeric face mask.
As if to prove that not all yoghurts are equal, live yoghurt is not only rich in calcium and protein. It’s also a very useful source of a variety of bacterial cultures that will help your body absorb all the anti-aging nutrients you’re consuming. Indirectly, therefore, it’s a great asset in boosting collagen production.
Drinking green tea is a great way of increasing your intake of polyphenols. These are a type of antioxidant with an anti-inflammatory effect thought to have a particularly beneficial effect on skin texture, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Green tea may also help protect some of the proteins essential for maintaining the elasticity of the skin.
You probably don’t think of coffee as something that’s good for you. However, coffee beans are rich in antioxidants. Moderate consumption, via the occasional cup of coffee, may have a beneficial effect on the body, including skin appearance. Coffee is also suitable for the addition of collagen powder as the brewing temperature is generally below the temperature at which collagen proteins degrade.
Red grapes are rich in flavonoids and resveratrol, a type of antioxidant. Luckily – at least if you’re a bon viveur – so, too, is red wine. Moderate consumption may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, help heart health and, thanks to the resveratrol, may aid collagen synthesis.
High in antioxidants, oats have an important role to play in mopping up rogue free radicals. It’s these free radicals that are responsible for many of the signs of skin aging. What’s more, as well as helping the appearance of skin, increasing oat consumption may also lower cholesterol levels and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut.
From an anti-aging perspective, brown rice is a superfood. It contains proteins that are essential for the production of collagen, it’s rich in the antioxidants that tackle free radicals, and its complex carbohydrates help keep blood sugar levels steady. Fluctuating blood sugar levels put the body under stress and this, in turn, is thought to accelerate skin aging.