Smoothing the way to a healthy glow?

January 7, 2014 by Lindsay Brooke, University of Nottingham
Smoothing the way to a healthy glow?

A group of university students are enjoying a specially designed fruit smoothie a day to discover whether it can improve their appearance and make them feel healthier. Their efforts are part of a study to assess what effect a carotenoid rich fresh fruit drink could have on our skin and perceived attractiveness.

The research, by the Schools of Psychology and Biosciences at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), is comparing two different health drinks. One group of students is drinking a smoothie made from carrots and a selection of underutilised Malaysian fruits while the control group received mineral water.

The relationship between skin carotenoid colouration and improved facial appearance has already been demonstrated in a western population by lead researcher Dr Ian Stephen. In this previous study, published in the academic journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, he found that people who ate more and vegetables each day had a more golden colour to their skin which, in follow-up perceptual studies, made them look healthier and by extension more attractive. The aim of his latest research project is to study what effect a drink made from carrots and local tropical fruits could have on the appearance in an SE Asian population and whether the volunteers looked any healthier as a result.

Carotenoids are natural lipophilic orange and yellow pigments present in most fruit and vegetables. β-carotene is one of the most studied carotenoids and known for its function as pro-vitamin A and dietary antioxidant. The students enjoyed either a smoothie a day or the equivalent volume of mineral water for a duration of six weeks. Each juice contained local Malaysian fruit such as Chiku, Kedondong, Pulasan, Dragon fruit and Star fruit.

After creating 30 different recipes, seven smoothies were chosen for the study each containing up to 50 per cent underutilised fruit. 80 volunteers were recruited by PhD student Tan Kok Wei, who is running the study, and took part in a six week trial. During that time measurements were taken of their body composition, dietary intake, skin colour and brightness. Although initial data suggests significant results, these will be scored by an independent group of experts before they are published.

Dr Stephen said: "There is a lot of research out there suggesting that people who look healthier actually are healthy. So hopefully we will be able to find out something about the health benefits of drinking a rich smoothie as well as how it affects our perceived attractiveness. Many people tend not to drink enough water or eat enough and even fall below the recommended five portions a day. If we discover that a smoothie a day does measurably and demonstrably improve the appearance of our skin hopefully that will encourage people to eat and drink more healthily."

Dr Brigitte A Graf, a nutrition scientist and an expert in bio-availability of active food ingredients, has designed the intervention product—the smoothies. She said: "I am interested in collaborating with psychologists because nutrition has a lot to do with psychology. My role is to monitor all the nutritional aspects of this study. It is important that bioactive food ingredients—in this case carotenoids—are absorbed from the food into the body. If carotenoids from our smoothie are not absorbed they cannot travel into the skin. Together with Dr Soma Mitra we also assessed the background diet of all the participants before they were allowed to join the study."

Explore further: Eat more vegetables for a healthy glow

Related Stories

Eat more vegetables for a healthy glow

December 5, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Research published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters has found that yellower skin tones resulting from a fruit and vegetable rich diet can make us more attractive. 

Health Check: The low-down on eating vs juicing fruit and veg

September 25, 2013
Eating more fruits and vegetables is the foundation stone of any healthy diet, with the national dietary guidelines recommending adults eat two pieces of fruit and five to six serves of veggies and legumes a day.

Looking healthy is more attractive than manliness

February 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Having a healthy skin colour is more important in determining how attractive a man is to women than how manly they look. These are the findings of a study carried out by researchers in the School of Psychology ...

Majority of very young children in California eat fast food at least once a week

November 26, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A surprisingly large percentage of very young children in California, including 70 percent of Latino children, eat fast food regularly, according to a new policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy ...

You are what you eat

March 7, 2012
Fruit and vegetable consumption is correlated with changes in skin redness and yellowness, as reported in the Mar. 7 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.