Nearly two thirds of adults in the UK do not eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day, with young adults even less likely to reach for these foodstuffs. New research seeks to tempt young people to choose a healthier diet, by advising that in fact eating fruit and vegetables makes you more attractive.
Can eating fruit and vegetables change your appearance?
Three biological pigments determine skin colour: melanin, haemoglobin, and carotenoids. Melanin is produced by cells in your skin called melanocytes and determines how dark your skin is. The amount of melanin these cells produce is dependent on your ethnicity and genes passed on from your parents. Haemoglobin is present in the red blood cells that give blood it’s red colour. The number of small blood vessels in your skin will make you redder or paler, along with how warm or cold you are.
Carotenoids are perhaps the least influential on skin tone and increased amount causes yellowing of the skin. Other research has shown that a diet high in carotenoids can bring about yellowing of the skin. Carotenoids are present in foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, tomato juice, pumpkin, spinach and broccoli.
How was this research done?
Young adults in Australia are also reluctant to get their ‘5-a-day’. Researchers Down Under sought to encourage more young people to chose fruit and vegetables everyday. In recent research they asked 50 young adults to make pictures of Caucasian faces look ‘as healthy as possible’. They could control the amount of melanin and carotenoid colouration in the pictures. They found that those in the study added more yellow (or carotenoid pigmentation) to create a ‘healthy appearance’. From this they have advised that through eating more fruit and vegetables you can become more attractive. This bold claim does support other studies that have shown adults in the UK similarly prefer a ‘healthier’, more ‘carotenoid’ appearance.
But, only 57 people completed this study and they only used Caucasian faces. Other similar studies have also only included small numbers of people. A Scottish study revealed participants felt more melanin indicated a healthy appearance. And there are many factors that make an individual appear attractive. For these reasons the results should be taken with a pinch of salt…
Or should that be with a handful of broccoli. As, after all, the health benefits of fruit and vegetables are well known. Recent research shows that actually eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and dying early.
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Any opinions above are the author’s alone and may not represent those of his/her affiliations. Any comment is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing. All data is based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data is representative of the sample surveyed. An online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice. Article proofed and edited for publication by Dr. BM Janaway.
Links and Further Reading
- Micozzi MS, et al. Carotenodermia in men with elevated carotenoid intake from foods and β-carotene supplements. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1988 48:1061-1064 Available via: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/48/4/1061.abstract?ijkey=d28d34dd6b4ec9e5b7cc436897d234e902adb137&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha
- Pezdirc K, Rollo ME, Whitehead R, et al. Perceptions of carotenoid and melanin colouration in faces among young Australian adults. Aust J Psychol. 2017 doi:10.1111/ajpy.12163 Available via:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajpy.12163/abstract;jsessionid=142320BE9D890B466D96090B6ACDB881.f02t01
- Stephen ID, Coetzee V, Perrett DI. Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behaviour. 2011. 32: 216-227. Available via: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090513810001169
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