Despite being one of the most essential elements in our bodies, it’s challenging to find a way to promote collagen generation. However, by eating specific foods, you’ll be able to ingest some of the building block your body needs to create collagen.
From leafy greens to eggs, multiple options will allow you to integrate collagen into all of your meals. Plus, each of these foods has its own individual benefits, further improving your overall health. Here’s what you need to know.
Foods Containing Collagen
Over the last few years, collagen has gained popularity as a way to reduce the effects of aging. Wrinkles, joint stiffness, and loss of flexibility can all be attributed to a lack of collagen. As such, many people have started to add collagen-rich foods to their diets.
Although research isn’t yet conclusive regarding the efficiency of ingesting collagen-rich meals, adding them to your diet will go a long way in staying healthy. Furthermore, most of these foods promote collagen production even if the body can’t absorb it directly. Here are ten foods that are rich in collagen (1):
Bone broth is an ancient recipe consisting of simmering animals’ bones, cartilages, and connective tissues in water and vinegar. You can then use the resulting stock to cook soups and sauces — or simply drink it on its own as a health drink.
Recently, bone broth has become popular as a collagen-rich food. Research shows that while it’s inconsistent, bone broth can provide the necessary amino acids to boost collagen production in your body (2).
On top of the collagen-related benefits, bone broth is also a fantastic inclusion to your diet thanks to the many micronutrients it provides. For example, it’s a great source of calcium, magnesium, and iron (3).
Adding seafood to your diet is one of the healthiest choices you can make, impacting everything from your heart to your metabolism. For example, fish is one of the best omega-3 sources, making them essential to cardiovascular health (4, 5).
Seafood is currently being investigated as a possible replacement for providing collagen to your body — a place previously occupied mostly by red meats. As such, adding seafood to your diet can give you the necessary elements to generate collagen for your body (6).
Also, eating fish can prevent other aging-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Similarly, it can reduce and prevent the inflammation caused by joint diseases like arthritis (7).
Experts have been battling fiercely to debunk the idea that eating eggs is bad — in fact, research shows that it’s one of the most essential foods out there. Plus, besides being one of the cornerstones of healthy eating, eggs also turn out to be excellent sources of collagen.
A recent study indicates that egg yolks have a considerable amount of collagen that your body can break down into what’s necessary. On the other hand, egg whites are richer in amino acids, which provide the necessary elements for collagen production (8).
Eggs are also one of the most beneficial foods for losing weight. Eating two eggs during breakfast has been shown to significantly increase your satiety levels throughout the day. In turn, you’ll be less prone to overeating (9).
Chicken is, along with seafood, one of the best options for replacing processed meats in your diet. However, its collagen-related benefits aren’t found inside the meat itself — instead, they’re concentrated in the skin and cartilages.
Recent studies show that chicken skin is one of the best collagen sources. Yet, many people don’t take advantage of it, as skin is often the most caloric part of poultry. If you want to avoid the extra calories, try cooking chicken cartilage in a nutritious bone broth (10).
Poultry is a fantastic protein source that’s also great for managing and preventing specific conditions. Namely, chicken can help in cases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases — three conditions usually associated with unhealthy diets (11).
Citrus fruits encompass foods such as oranges and lemons, which are great for promoting collagen production. Even though they don’t contain any collagen themselves, the vitamin C they contain can help combat aging symptoms (12).
A recent study shows that vitamin C promotes collagen production along the skin. Mainly, it boosts the generation of type I and IV collagen — two of the most critical collagens in your skin’s middle and outer layers (12, 13).
Besides boosting collagen production, citrus fruits have dozens of other benefits, such as being anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, they have been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-oxidative, and gastroprotective properties (14).
Berries are known for being a great nutrient-dense, low-calorie choice for a sweet snack. However, not many people know the impact berries have on the skin, thanks to a series of chemicals that have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties (15).
Recent research suggests that eating berries is linked to a higher expression of type I collagen. This helps in tasks such as wound closing, which is essential for maintaining a healthy skin free of scars and wrinkles (15).
On top of promoting the creation of collagen, berries also contain pectin — a valuable nutrient for anyone looking to lose weight. This fiber delays gastric emptying, making you feel satiated for longer than usual, preventing the intake of excess calories (16, 17).
Peppers may not be the first thing to come to your mind when thinking about healthy foods. Yet, these vegetables can have exceptional properties for your skin, collagen production, and satiety levels.
Sunlight is a common cause of drops in your collagen production, as too much exposition to it causes oxidation in your skin. Capsaicin, the main component in peppers, helps combat this by promoting the generation of dermal collagen (18).
Furthermore, a higher intake of capsaicin is linked to a higher caloric expenditure due to its impact on your resting metabolic rate. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating peppers could help you lose up to 30 extra calories per day (19).
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide what experts call “essential fatty acids (EFAs)” — lipids that your body can’t synthesize. These EFAs have several health benefits, which range from promoting cardiovascular health to improving collagen creation (20).
In a recent study, participants were asked about their diets, with particular attention to the consumption of essential fatty acids. Experts found that people who reported higher intakes of EFAs had the healthiest skin, suggesting that they promoted collagen production (20).
Nuts and seeds are fantastic sources of essential micronutrients like vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, copper, and calcium. They have also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease due to the healthy fats they provide (21).
Leafy greens include vegetables such as spinach, kale, and arugula. They are an essential part of any diet, and positively impact your skin by reducing wrinkles and similar age-related imperfections.
This is possible thanks to a unique component of leafy greens: chlorophyll. Experts have found that this pigment boosts the production of type I collagen, which helps reduce wrinkles. Plus, it helps combat some of the damage caused by sunlight (22, 23).
Leafy greens are another food that can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. Thanks to a nutrient called thylakoid, these vegetables can positively impact your satiety levels, making you feel full for long periods after eating (24).
Despite many people avoiding garlic due to the infamous “garlic breath,” adding some to your diet can be beneficial for your health. For example, it has been shown to reduce the damage caused by sunlight to your skin (25).
This happens because specific components of garlic can promote the production of type I collagen — the most abundant collagen in your body. In turn, this also has an anti-wrinkle effect that’s great for reducing the signs of aging (25).
However, it’s unclear how much garlic you need to add to your meals to reap these benefits. Instead, one should treat it as a complement to other collagen-promoting foods to avoid having to eat abnormal amounts of garlic.
What Causes Low Collagen Levels?
The leading cause of low collagen levels is, without a doubt, aging. As your body ages, it slows down the rate at which it produces collagen. Similarly, it also starts to break down the existing collagen at a progressively faster rate (26).
This causes the famous aging signs, which show the lack of collagen in the tissues in your body. Your skin, cartilages, tendons, and ligaments are all partly made up of collagen — so as you age, the more they deteriorate. Here are some common signs of low collagen (26):
- Saggy skin
- Weakened muscles
- Hallow eyes and face
- Blood flow problems
- Loss of flexibility in articulations
However, aging isn’t the only cause of low collagen. Another common reason is, for example, smoking. Research shows that smoking reduces your body’s ability to produce collagen, making you more prone to wrinkles and other skin-related problems (26).
On the other hand, sunlight can also cause low collagen levels. This is because UV light reduces collagen production and breakdown rates, effectively causing similar signs as aging. Furthermore, excess sunlight can lead to conditions such as skin cancer (26, 27).
Research also shows that mental factors such as stress can negatively affect collagen production. Namely, it affects type I and III collagen, two of the most crucial proteins in your skin (28).
Key Takeaways: Collagen-Rich Foods
Many foods are high in collagen, such as bone broth, seafood, eggs, chicken, citrus fruits, and berries. Adding these foods to your diet may help you reduce wrinkles, joint stiffness, and loss of flexibility.
Yet, if you find that eating these foods doesn’t directly impact your health, you may want to try some of the top collagen supplements. These allow you to boost your collagen production through collagen peptides — small pieces of protein from animals.