We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but a new study says that you also look like what you eat—at least in terms of your skin. A new study analyzes subjects’ skin color and appearance while eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables vs. while eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. They found that subjects developed more red and yellow skin tones, changes they said correlate with increased attractiveness. If this isn’t good motivation to eat your vegetables, we don’t know what is.
Researchers at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews analyzed the skin tones of 35 subjects before and after increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables for six weeks. They found that, due to an increased presence of carotenoids, subjects showed an increase in yellow and red skin tones—a marker that has been correlated with perceived attractiveness in past studies. They ensured that subjects didn’t use makeup, sunless tanning, or sun exposure to alter skin tone during the course of the study.
The good news is that study authors Ross Whitehead and David Perrett are saying we don’t need a complete overhaul in diet to get similar results:
We also used psychophysical methods to investigate the minimum color change required to confer perceptibly healthier and more attractive skin-coloration. Modest dietary changes are required to enhance apparent health (2.91 portions per day) and attractiveness (3.30 portions).
Still, the study has some limitations: Aside from the small scale of the study, most of the subjects were also Caucasian, so researchers need more information before they can confirm consistent results.