The past year was a banner year for fruits and vegetables. With research linking them to lowered cholesterol, improved sperm quality, increased fertility, protection from UV rays, and the prevention of anemia, dementia and cancer, fruits and vegetables are emerging as superfoods in the quest for health and longevity. There is even evidence that eating fruits and vegetables makes you more attractive.
I wanted to start reviewing some the latest research on fruits and vegetables one claim at a time. And since nothing motivates like vanity, I’ll start with two studies that reached similar conclusions: the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more attractive you are to others.
Researchers in one study followed the diets of 35 participants, took pictures of them at the end of the program, and showed the pictures to others. Those participants who ate an average of 2.9 more portions of fruits and vegetables each day developed a golden tint to the skin and were rated as healthier looking. And those who downed an extra 3.3 portions daily were rated as more attractive.
A similar study published in the Royal Society journal in England found that photographs of subjects whose skin color was altered through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables were rated as more attractive than those with suntans.
What is the science behind the results? Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables improve circulation and alter skin pigment. Lycopene, a bright red carotene that gives a red color to tomatoes, watermelon and other red fruits and vegetables, and beta-carotene, found in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe broccoli, kale and other leafy greens, seemed to have the greatest role in altering skin color.
Polyphenols, which increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the skin surface, also played an important role. Polyphenols are found in fruits such as berries, grapes, apples, plums and lychees, and in vegetables such as artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and parsley.
In addition to altering the tone of the skin, antioxidants also enhance skin quality by fighting the damaging effects of pollution, stress and UV rays.
Dr Ian Stephen, from the School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, led the research connecting vegetable-enhanced skin tones and increased attraciveness and concluded, “Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective.”
He went on to surmise that evolution probably favored those who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals. Thus, he concluded, we are programmed to respond to a healthy glow.
Next time I’ll look at a more serious benefit of eating fruits and vegetables: their importance in preventing dementia.
To help determine which fruits and vegetables best support your body type, take a free dosha quiz at
(Photo of Shiny Red Apple by London Looks, Flickr Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Flickr’s Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)