Golden Glow

Golden Glow
4.75 (95%) 16 votes

How to be more attractive by eating carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables—rather than tanning—for healthy-looking skin.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The reason the peacock looks like this, and the peahen looks like this, is because of sexual selection. The females prefer males with the most elaborate displays. How does this make sense evolutionarily? How can appearance offer insight into the health of a potential mate?

Having such ornate, excessive plumage is risky. The poor peacock can barely get off the ground. And this is hardly effective camouflage against predators. And so the fact that the peacock could survive despite such costly ornamentation offers a sense of how robust the bird’s genetics must be. So, natural selection might favor females attracted to that sort of thing.

So, are you just born attractive or not? Well some species use diet to increase their sexual attractiveness. Great tits prefer carotenoid-rich caterpillars, which play an role in plumage pigmentation; their breasts become brighter yellow, which is more attractive to potential mates, and a signal of how good they may be at procuring food, and is a reflection of their health status, since yellow carotenoids like lutein are so health-promoting. So scientists wondered if the same phenomenon could be found in the human species.

Published in the International Journal of Primatology: “Facial skin coloration affects perceived health of human faces.” “The face plays a significant role in human interactions, including mate choice.” So the researchers took digital photographs of Caucasian men and women, and allowed people to turn a dial to manipulate various color values until they came up with what they perceived to be the healthiest looking color, and both men and women preferred increased yellow, the proverbial “golden glow.” In other words: “Greens to be gorgeous.”

“We suggest that the healthy appearance of skin yellowness may be attributable to dietary carotenoid deposition in the skin. This suggests that carotenoids, which are involved in health signaling…and sexual selection…in many species of birds and fish, may also affect the appearance of health in humans.”

In fact: “It is a popular view that suntanning enhances the healthy and attractive appearance of Caucasian faces,” but this research suggests that “any benefit to health appearance from tanning is due to the associated increase” in skin yellowness, and that if you separate it out people actually prefer the lighter but yellower skin.

So, better than a tanning bed to improve our healthfulness and attractiveness is a bed of greens.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The reason the peacock looks like this, and the peahen looks like this, is because of sexual selection. The females prefer males with the most elaborate displays. How does this make sense evolutionarily? How can appearance offer insight into the health of a potential mate?

Having such ornate, excessive plumage is risky. The poor peacock can barely get off the ground. And this is hardly effective camouflage against predators. And so the fact that the peacock could survive despite such costly ornamentation offers a sense of how robust the bird’s genetics must be. So, natural selection might favor females attracted to that sort of thing.

So, are you just born attractive or not? Well some species use diet to increase their sexual attractiveness. Great tits prefer carotenoid-rich caterpillars, which play an role in plumage pigmentation; their breasts become brighter yellow, which is more attractive to potential mates, and a signal of how good they may be at procuring food, and is a reflection of their health status, since yellow carotenoids like lutein are so health-promoting. So scientists wondered if the same phenomenon could be found in the human species.

Published in the International Journal of Primatology: “Facial skin coloration affects perceived health of human faces.” “The face plays a significant role in human interactions, including mate choice.” So the researchers took digital photographs of Caucasian men and women, and allowed people to turn a dial to manipulate various color values until they came up with what they perceived to be the healthiest looking color, and both men and women preferred increased yellow, the proverbial “golden glow.” In other words: “Greens to be gorgeous.”

“We suggest that the healthy appearance of skin yellowness may be attributable to dietary carotenoid deposition in the skin. This suggests that carotenoids, which are involved in health signaling…and sexual selection…in many species of birds and fish, may also affect the appearance of health in humans.”

In fact: “It is a popular view that suntanning enhances the healthy and attractive appearance of Caucasian faces,” but this research suggests that “any benefit to health appearance from tanning is due to the associated increase” in skin yellowness, and that if you separate it out people actually prefer the lighter but yellower skin.

So, better than a tanning bed to improve our healthfulness and attractiveness is a bed of greens.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more on carotenoids, check out these videos:
Eating Better to Look Better
Antioxidants and Depression
Produce, Not Pills, to Increase Physical Attractiveness

And check out my other videos on phytonutrients

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Optimum Nutrition RecommendationsEating Green to Prevent CancerThe Anti-Wrinkle DietTreating Sensitive Skin From the Inside Out, and Diet & Cellulite.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

24 responses to “Golden Glow

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  1. As much as I want to thank you for that email you sent me about your site, I think I’ve spent more time here watching videos that studying for med school this weekend!Haha,just kidding but this website has great and informative stuff! I’ve already shared with nearly everyone I know.

    1. A healthy addiction I can assure you! :) Hopefully some decent clinical nutrition will help your future patients more then all the Kreb’s cycle reiterations combined. Please do share the site with your colleagues and let me know if you have any questions as you progress through training.

        1. Dr Greger doesn’t have any content on this topic, but you may wish to consult with a dermatologist for more information.

          Maria, Health Support Volunteer

    1. If your looking for good whole plant food sources of carotenoids, orange flesh sweet potatoes, greens and carrots can provide more then enough carotenoids to see this effect.

  2. This is giving me pause…I have no desire to have orangy/yellowy/tan skin…particularly on my face. What about the coveted alabaster in centuries past…. maybe the yellowness of the skin was chosen in these studies because of changed in cultural preferences.

  3. Look, this is serious. If it becomes known that eating healthy will make you more attractive, then we may well have the key for adolescent dietary improvement that could well alter the health profile of generations to come. Teens are immortal. At least I was at that age but being more attractive to women. WOW!
    I went with WFPBD for all the mundane things like avoiding arthritis, cancer, heart disease, et cetera. Had I known sooner about becoming a “babe magnet” I almost certainly would make it to 100+….

  4. My daughter eats a wholefoods plants based diet with no sugar, no animal products , no oils and no processed foods whatsoever. She faithfully drinks 2- 3 litres of water every day and lives a active life. She still struggles with acne. It is better since she stopped all oils but she still struggles with some acne.Why would this be?

    1. Hi Ang: Have you seen all of Dr. Greger’s videos on acne? If not, you can find them here. Everyone’s case is different. In general, following a whole-food, plant-based diet should help improve acne issues. The four main factors that cause acne are oil production, dead skin cells, clogged pores, and bacteria. Hormones and stress are also known to make acne worse. It would be best to follow-up with a dermatologist if your daughter is not seeing good results with just diet alone. A dermatologist would be able to pinpoint the root cause of her issue and provide an individualized treatment plan.

  5. What utter bullshit. No diet can change your skin tone to the point that it is noticeable, unless you’re talking about eating a MASSIVE amount of carrots (as an old uni friend of mine did after being given a 20kg bag of them for free), which will turn you, & the whites of your eyes, an unnatural orange/yellow. Yes, try to eat ‘healthily’, but be aware that what is considered healthy constantly changes with research, fads & fashion, & is further manipulated by media. Sorry people, but there’s no easy, secret cure to anything, and anyone (like the author/s of this site) that tells you there is, is either uninformed or after your money. I have a degree in biochemistry & plant science.

  6. As a volunteer health support volunteer responding to comments, I would ask you to keep your tone civil please, Pauline. It seems you are in agreement about the wisdom of eating healthfully but question that by eating certain plant-based foods, one can change skin tone. If you are referring to coloring, these two studies Dr. Greger cited in https://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-better-to-look-better/ would indicate that indeed certain foods can alter skin tone (and as the other references indicated) to many individuals that translates to a healthier look.
    R. D. Whitehead, D. Re, D. Xiao, G. Ozakinci, D. I. Perrett. You are what you eat: Within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS ONE 2012 7(3):e32988.
    I. D. Stephen, V. Coetzee, M. L. Smith, D. I. Perrett. Skin blood perfusion and oxygenation colour affect perceived human health. PLoS ONE 2009 4(4):e5083

    Because this site is evidence based, I’m surprised you interpreted the video as indicating this site is promoting any easy secret cure. I think we can agree there is no secret cure for health or perhaps attractiveness, However, it seems research can give us reliable information as to :
    – what folks consider looking healthy and attractive
    – what foods help us look that way.
    .
    .

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