When you belly up to the salad bar or roll through the grocery store, you’re up against a battery of decisions: Which leafy green is the least bitter? Which protein will make my meal satisfying, not fattening? Nuts—those are good…but high in calories, right? And yet, despite your careful calculations, you may be missing a major food factor: hormone-balancing properties.”The main hormone that affects the skin, causing it to break out, is testosterone, and eating a well-balanced diet is essential in keeping its levels balanced,” explains New York City–based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. But keeping hormones on an even keel isn’t a matter of aimlessly attempting to eat well. These six key foods proactively balance your hormones, which can plump up skin, ward off wrinkles, and even prevent acne:Quinoa
This grain is more popular than a piano-playing cat on YouTube, and for good reason: It’s packed with protein, magnesium, and phosphorus, and it has a hormone-stabilizing trick up its sleeve, too. “Unlike other grains, which are higher on the glycemic index and can raise your blood sugar, quinoa is a complex carb high in protein, so it helps keep blood sugar stable,” says Trevor Cates, ND, a naturopathic physician based in Park City, Utah. “This prevents a domino effect where elevated blood sugar triggers higher insulin and, in turn, higher androgen levels.” Try swapping grains like bread and white rice for quinoa—half a cup of quinoa at least twice a week will ensure you’ll get the perks (more won’t hurt).AlmondsIf your skin is going nuts, turn to almonds; they increase levels of the adiponectin hormone, which regulates blood sugar levels so you won’t set off the increased insulin–increased androgen ripple effect. What’s more, studies have proven that eating almonds shrinks levels of “male” hormones like testosterone that can make your skin look drier and thinner. “Eleven almonds a day [one serving size] or more is a great addition to your diet,” she adds.Find out how you can balance your hormones to lose weight, too! Check out The Hormone Reset Diet to lose up to 15 pounds in 3 weeks.AvocadosLike we had to tell you to eat them. “Avocados—and other good fats like olive oil and coconut oil—support the manufacture of healthy levels of cholesterol, a key component in hormone synthesis,”. This will enable your skin to release and circulate the hormones it needs so it can stay healthy. And that’s not avocados’ only beauty benefit. Healthier fats beef up your skin cells’ natural lipid bilayers so the membrane stays in top shape, allowing your skin to retain water better so it looks plump, not dry and dull. Eat half an avocado a day to get the perks of its monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium, vitamins C and E, and lutein, which helps prevent sun damage.SalmonThis overachieving fish (good for brain and heart health) is a hormone helper, too. “Just like the healthy fats in avocados, omega-3 fatty acids are a core building block in both cholesterol and hormone synthesis,” Cates explains. Bonus: Salmon’s anti-inflammatory properties can help calm skin eruptions like acne and eczema, too. Aim for a 4-ounce serving of salmon twice a week.EggsIf you’re an egg whites–only type of woman, listen up: Though the yolk has gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, the variety it contains—HDL cholesterol—is actually the type that your body needs to create hormones, leading to softer, more supple skin, says Diana Bitner, MD, medical director of Midlife and Menopause Health Services at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, MI. Jaliman recommends eating just one egg per day to get the goods without overloading on the rich food.Broccoli
And don’t forget to eat your broccoli—and spinach, and brussels sprouts. Dark leafy greens contain the natural compounds sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol, which improve your liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. And trust us, you want estrogen—it increases collagen, which keeps your skin firm and taut, and bumps up blood supply to the skin, so it can repair itself quickly. “As estrogen levels decrease, everything shrinks and pulls in,” Bitner explains. Help keep your levels up with at least half a cup of dark leafy greens per day.