Want Collagen? Amp Up Your Inner and Outer Beauty with Whole Foods
By Tracy Turi
Looking for ways to increase your collagen intake but feel constrained by a vegetarian or vegan diet? Or just looking to swap out your bone broth for some plant-based whole food options this Spring?
Collagen has certainly become a huge buzzword in 2019, and it is certainly one of the most important proteins you can feed your body every day. But the barrage of supplements and powders filling the shelves these days can turn the purchasing process into a daunting experience, especially since each brand seems to be offering the Fountain of Youth.
Collagen is a protein made up of those essential and non-essential amino acids that form the basis of the connective and support tissues in our bodies, which includes our skin, ligaments and tendons, as well as our bones, cartilage and even blood vessels.
Because essential amino acids are not naturally produced by our bodies, it is important to include collagen-rich foods in our daily diet. And as we age, the body slows in its ability to produce even those non-essential amino acids that we naturally produce. For this reason, a nutrient-dense diet is the cornerstone for building collagen in our bodies.
Luckily, these days, diets are no longer about constraints, and certainly not about dieting or abstaining. These days it’s about amping up and maximizing your nutrient intake with nutrient-dense whole foods and healthy fats.
Most of us are aware of the mammal-derived collagen found in meat and poultry bones and the marine collagen derived from fish bones, but there are also numerous dairy- and plant-based foods that help to build collagen, foods like: eggs, dairy, soy and cultured soy products like tempeh and seitan, legumes, lentils, nuts, quinoa and wheat germ.
Just as important, in order to maximize the benefits of collagen, make sure to pair collagen- rich whole foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, and minerals like zinc, copper and magnesium, which all help to boost both collagen and the hyaluronic acid that bind collagen to the elastin in our connective tissues.
This means pairing collagen-rich foods with veggies like broccoli, peppers and leafy greens; plenty of citrus fruits, especially mangos, melons, and papayas; legumes and seeds (like pumpkin seeds and chia); seaweed (especially kelp); avocados; and plenty of orange veggies, like sweet potatoes and carrots.