Maybe there’s no such thing as a fountain of youth, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get some of nature’s most potent anti-aging nutrients from the water. Wild Alaskan seafood is rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins that keep your skin in preternatural shape — but wild salmon, especially, might just be the perfect food for great skin. This ancient Alaskan fish is an anti-aging treasure trove with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Astaxanthin: An All-Around Win for Skin
Wild salmon contain astaxanthin, a carotenoid antioxidant that saturates its oily flesh with a vibrant pinkish red hue. The fish get their astaxanthin content through their unique diet of carotenoid-containing plankton and krill, a nutrient that then becomes available to us when we cook them up for dinner. Wild sockeye has the highest concentration of astaxanthin out of all five species, containing nearly double the amount available in wild coho.
A comprehensive review of astaxanthin’s skin benefits was published last year and covered just about everything you’d want to know about how this carotenoid can help keep you looking younger than your birth age. Consuming ample and regular amounts of this potent antioxidant has been shown to boost skin elasticity, aid in the repair of damaged skin, maintain skin moisture levels, and prevent the formation of new wrinkles.
Additionally, astaxanthin has anti-inflammatory properties reduced the production of inflammatory markers in the skin, indicating an overall reduction of systemic stress; stress, as you hopefully know by now, is a major factor in premature aging. A few studies covered in the review found that using astaxanthin topically is also beneficial (not that we’re recommending you make a DIY salmon mask).
Astaxanthin is available on its own in supplement form but consuming it with healthy fats boosts its bioavailability, allowing your skin to receive the maximum dose of anti-aging benefits.
Selenium: Potentially Potent Against Skin Cancer
Selenium is an essential mineral for optimal health, and salmon happens to contain some of the highest concentrations of the mineral. A single serving contains nearly a full day’s worth of the nutrient.
Preliminary findings from studies relating to selenium and skin health have indicated that consuming the mineral may result in a seriously great dose-dependent benefit to your skin (meaning, the more you eat, the better off you are); in one study, it was shown to protect against the formation of skin cancer when taken on its own. Another study included selenium in a nutrient mixture that its researchers concluded had significantly reduced the incidence of skin tumors, bolstering the possibility that the mineral will make its way into everyday anti-aging skin routines. More clinical studies need to be conducted to confirm its benefits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Supporting the Brain-Skin Connection
Wild salmon is a lean source of protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids, most of which is locked up in the skin of the fish. Don’t be afraid to eat the skin: it’s delicious, especially when you get it nice and crispy in a perfect sear.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s support a healthy brain-skin connection at the cellular level. Consuming plenty of omega-3s in the form of DHA and EPA, fatty acids only found in oily fish, helps to tamp down the prevalence of stress hormones that your body produces in response to external factors like diet, environment, exercise, sleep habits, and general well-being; having too much of these inflammatory hormones circulating in your body can cause your skin to age prematurely (among other serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). You won’t be able to get those stellar benefits out of your usual land- or sea-based sources of protein, which might even contain inflammatory fats that worsen the condition of your skin.
Omega-3s, used both orally and topically, can improve the skin’s ability to repair itself from damage as well as protect against UV damage and hence had a potent anti-aging effect. People who are deficient in omega-3s will experience the loss of moisture content in the skin as well as a higher incidence of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. You’ll get adequate levels of omega-3s by eating two to three servings of salmon each week, so keep it in your regular rotation of dinners to stay forever young from the inside out.