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Sunday, 31 August 2014

You really ARE what you eat

Forget sunbathing, munching just two extra portions of fruit and veg a day gives you a more attractive skin glow than a suntan.

  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables gives skin a golden 'carotenoid' glow.
  • Majority of people rated this yellow glow more attractive than a suntan.
  • Carotenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.
  • Scientists suggest 'carotenoid' glow signals health to potential mates.

You might be lamenting your fading tan as summer becomes a distant memory. But fear not - all you need to do is reach for a carrot or two.
Scientists now say that eating more fruit and vegetables really does lead to a golden skin glow, which signals good health to potential mates and increases your attractiveness.
High levels of red and yellow pigments in vegetables give the skin a yellow glow, whereas tanning in the sun makes the skin go brown.

This is because skin can become coloured either through a process called 'cartenoid colorisation', eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, or through a process called 'melanin colorisation', where the skin becomes tanned by the sun. 
Wanting to explore the importance of skin colour in facial attractiveness, the British scientists asked 60 volunteers to rate how attractive they found faces digitally enhanced to show pigmentation caused by ‘carotenoid coloration’ from eating fruit and vegetables, or ‘melanin coloration’ caused by tanning in the sun.

Golden glow: Scientists digitally enhanced images to show the effects of high cartenoid coloration- the golden glow achieved from eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (pictured top right)- compared with low cartenoid coloration (pictured top left). This was rated more attractive than images enhanced to show high melanin coloration from the sun (pictured bottom right) compared to low melanin coloration (pictured bottom left)

In the study, published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, more than three quarters of respondents (76 per cent) said the yellow glow from eating lots of brightly coloured vegetables was more attractive than the brown glow achieved through a sun tan. 
Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses of everyday living, and are important for our immune and reproductive systems.
So researchers suggest that the golden skin from fruit and vegetables sends a signal of general health to potential mates and increases attractiveness.


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Melons 
  • Carrots
  • Tomato juice
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli 
The study's co-author Dr Carol Lefevre, from of the Centre for Decision Research, at Leeds University, told MailOnline the research clearly exposes ‘the importance of carotenoid coloration as a cue to current health and attractiveness'. 
'It may be pivotal in mate choices,' she added. 
The research follows on from a previous study which found that eating two extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day led to a noticeable change in skin colour in just six weeks.
Scientists at St Andrews University tracked changes in the diet of 35 students over a 6 week period, measuring natural changes in their diet and skin colour.
Those individuals that improved their diet over the six weeks showed an increase in the desired golden skin tone, while the colour reduced in those whose diet had slipped.
Lead researcher Dr Ross Whitehead, Research Fellow at the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews said he was surprised how even small improvements in diet produced results.
He said: ‘People who eat more fruit and vegetables have a ‘golden’ skin tone that looks healthy and attractive. Our latest research finds that even small improvements in diet produces visible benefits to skin colour. We were very surprised by how quick the changes were.



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