Want Better Skin? Eat Chocolate (and Other Food Rules to Love Right Now)

While you may be downing kale by the plateful in pursuit of a perfect complexion, don't skip the candy aisle if you want glowing skin. (Yes, really.) In "Future Proof Your Skin," London-based dermatologist Stephanie Williams, M.D., reveals that unsweetened cocoa can actually help keep skin healthy. Research has shown that compounds in cocoa, dubbed cocoa flavanols, may increase hydration, decrease rough skin and scaling, and help protect skin against the harmful effects of UV rays.

Eating dark chocolate can also help keep your body in tip-top shape—which means healthier skin. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate (less than three ounces per day) can help lower blood pressure, decrease your risk for heart disease and improve your mood. Plus, chocolate makes for smart snacking: Researchers found that individuals who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate scored higher on cognitive tests than those who didn't. Here, four more unexpected food rules that do a body good:

Fuel up on fat. According to Williams, fat can help skin stay smooth and supple. She recommends reaching for healthy fats, such as coconut oil, instead of butter. Bonus: You can also use coconut oil as a skin and hair moisturizer, so you can reap its beneficial effects inside and out. (Be sure to choose organic coconut products to reduce the absorption of toxins into your skin.)
Raise a (shot) glass. You’ve probably already heard that red wine is chock full of the anti-aging compound resveratrol, but what if you're in the mood for the hard stuff?  Drinking tequlia, it turns out, actually has a few health benefits, thanks to the agave plant it's derived from. Some studies have suggested that the liquor can break down dietary fat, which can help lower LDL levels, aka bad cholesterol. Williams recommends reaching for a high-quality tequila mixed with a splash of organic lime and water, rather than a sugar-bomb cocktail, to help keep your blood sugar levels in check since high levels of sugar in the body can make skin brittle and accelerate aging.
Eat eggs.  Essential for healthy skin, cholesterol is also necessary to help the body produce hormones, such as estrogen. While eggs often get a bad rap, Williams touts them as a healthy source of cholesterol, and gives you a boost of protein and hard-to-get choline. Plus, you can eat up to two a day (yes, every day!), so go ahead and make that omelet a double.
Get back to three squares a day. Sure, there's plenty of buzz around eating mini-meals throughout the day, but according to Williams, all that grazing keeps sugar levels high, which speeds up the aging process. She says sticking to a traditional three-meals-a-day diet allows your blood sugar to stay at a healthy level, according to Williams. And three square meals may even keep you slimmer: Research shows that individuals who eat six (or more) small meals a day often consume more calories than those who don't.

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