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Eat veggies, get beautiful

Consumer Reports News: March 07, 2012 05:38 PM

I was prepared for some Dramatic Teenage Eye Rolling when I told my daughter about a new piece of research coming out this week about the benefits vegetables. I brought it up while we were in the car, so she couldn’t end the conversation prematurely by fleeing to a Mom-free location.

Before she could roll her eyes at another of Mom’s “I’ve got science on my side” nutrition discussions, I delivered my best line: “Did you know that eating more fruit and vegetables can make you more attractive?”

THAT got her attention.

I told her about the study just published in the online journal PLoS ONE in which researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found a link between increases in fruit and vegetable consumption and how attractive participants were perceived to be. Using a spectrophotometer to measure the absorption of light at different locations on the body (cheeks, forehead, forearm, shoulder, etc.), the researchers found significant increases in both the red and yellow pigmentation of the skin that corresponded with self-reported increases in how many fruits and vegetables the subjects ate. That increase in the red and yellow pigmentation translated to an increased rating of attractiveness when photos were rated by other volunteers.

The researchers speculated that eating more fruit and vegetables increased the amount of carotenoids (such as lycopene and carotene) in the skin, increasing the yellow and red pigmentation, making the subject appear healthier, and thereby more attractive.

When I explained that to my daughter, she said: “If it would get me a date to the prom, I’ll eat the whole vegetable drawer in the fridge.”

Needless to say, I didn’t feel the need to let her know that the researchers also found that you could increase fruit and vegetable intake modestly (like about four servings per day) and still see the changes. I wouldn’t want to dampen her new found enthusiasm.

You Are What You Eat: Within-Subject Increases in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Confer Beneficial Skin-Color Changes. [PLoS ONE]

Erin Riddell

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