People who eat higher amounts of fruit and vegetables have more attractive skin than those who are merely suntanned, a new study has found.
Research from the University of Newcastle (UON) in Australia claims to have busted the myth that young adults perceive tanned facial skin to be healthy and attractive. Instead, it found that participants across the board preferred skin colour associated with higher intakes of fruit and vegetables compared to skin colour associated with sun exposure.
The study investigated whether young Australians associated a healthy complexion with melanin colouration from tanning, versus carotenoid colouration from fruit and vegetables.
Lead author Dr Kristine Pezdirc explained: “Human skin colour is influenced by three pigments – haemoglobin, carotenoids and melanin. There are some concerns if young Australian adults perceive skin colouration from tanning (melanin) to be healthy. This group in particular has an increased risk of developing skin cancers as they are less likely to use sun protection."
As part of the study, participants were asked to manipulate the colour of 50 different faces on a computer to make them appear “as healthy as possible”. Three separate experiments were carried out on each face without participants knowing what variables they were adjusting.
“Participants associated the appearance of health with carotenoid colouration, removing the melanin colouration when both were applied to the image simultaneously,” Pezdirc said.
She added that further research among a broader population could help influence young adults to alter their behaviours relating to sun exposure and diet.
UON dietitian researcher Professor Clare Collins was one of the chief investigators on the study and said young people should aim for five servings of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day in line with Australian national recommendations.
“Professor Collins’ take-home message and bottom line is, for a healthy glow, hit the fruit and vegetables before heading out,” Pezdirc said.