Study: Can a Veggie-Rich Diet Make You More Beautiful?

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There are so many healthy reasons to eat vegetables that it feels redundant to keep enumerating them. But if a stronger immune system, cancer-fighting antioxidants and heart-healthy fiber aren’t reason enough for some, perhaps we can appeal to their vanity: a study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour found that eating foods high in carotenoids — a nutrient found in some fruits, leafy greens and root vegetables — gave them a healthy glow that rivaled a sun tan and made them more attractive in tests. (More on Time.com: Eat Veggies, Cheat Death)

“We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color,” Dr. Ian Stephen, the study’s lead researcher, now of the School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, said in a statement. “So if you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”

People with diets high in fruits and vegetables had demonstrably yellower skin, the researchers found. But the scientists weren’t sure if the veggie glow would be perceived differently than one achieved by sitting in the sun. So they asked study participants to look at 51 different Caucasian faces and adjust the skin tones to the hues, ranging from those typical of a day in the sun to the glow from a carotenoid-rich diet, that they thought looked healthiest. (More on Time.com: 5 New Rules for Good Health)

From left: suntanned, neutral, with carotenoid coloring (Courtesy of Ian Stephen, University of Nottingham)

Reported California Watch:

The students could adjust the skin tone of the photographed faces, making them more yellow, more suntanned or more pale.

According to the new study, the students found yellower faces more attractive and healthy looking.

Want the glow? Try upping your intake of carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cantaloupe, spinach and kale.

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