Collagen is one of those hot topics making its way through beauty blogs, in salons, and you may have even seen packages of collagen on the shelves of your local grocery store. Why is this natural compound busting doors in the health world? Turns out collagen is not only great for your bones, joints, and organ health, but it may also be one of the best weapons we have against the physical signs of aging in our skin!
First off, what is collagen? Collagen, also called a complex protein, is a conglomeration of 19 different essential and nonessential amino acids including some rarer nonessential (or conditional) types such as “arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline.” In simpler terms, “collagen is the main protein of all connective tissue,” the tissue that binds your body together such as “fascia tissue, dermis (the bottom layer of your skin), muscles, tendons, cartilage and the tissue surrounding your hair and nails.” Collagen actually comprises around “one-third of a healthy [human] body,” making up about “70 [percent] of the protein in our skin.”
How does collagen keep our body’s tissues healthy and fight the physical signs of aging?
Along with holding our bones and muscles together, protecting our organs, and providing structure for our joints and tendons, collagen plays a main role in our skin’s elasticity. As we age the natural production of collagen slows down, meaning we have less of this wonderful protein keeping our skin taut and thick. Hence, more wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. Therefore, as we age, it’s important to find natural sources of high-grade collagen in order to keep our bones, tissues, and organs healthy, as well as help keep our skin strong and thick!
Luckily, there are many plant-based sources of vitamins and minerals that promote collagen production! This includes vitamin C — helps to promote the proper manufacturing of collagen — zinc — activates proteins that are essential for making collagen — manganese — increases “production of collagen and elastin by increasing the enzyme responsible for proline formation” — vitamin A — stimulates the production of collagen — and copper — upregulates collagen and elastin “meaning it increases either the production or utilization of collagen and elastin, as well as helps facilitate creating the fibril structure of these collagens.”
Here are 15 plant-based recipes from the Food Monster App that are rich in these collagen boosting compounds!
Source: Healthy Chili
Hot chili peppers, such as used in this Healthy Chili recipe by Wendy Irene, are an oftentimes overlooked rich source of collagen-boosting vitamin C. For instance, a single green chili pepper “contains 109 mg of vitamin C,” while a single red chili pepper has around 65 milligrams. On top of their high vitamin C content, chili pepper’s are also known as a natural pain and inflammation reducer, as well as a fat burner, due to capsaicin, the compound that makes them spicy! This recipe is loaded with both green and red chili peppers, as well as an array of veggies, — such as butternut squash, zucchini, and onion, protein-rich beans, — healthy fats, — such as olive oil — and herbs and spices including thyme (another source of vitamin C!) and chipotle powder for an additional kick of heat!
Butternut squash is one of those essential plant-based ingredients. It’s sweet and nutty flavor makes it a great option for those looking to wean themselves off of sugar-rich foods, plus it’s one of the richest sources of collagen-promoting vitamin A. One cup of cooked butternut squash offers up over 22,000 international units of vitamin A. This 7-Ingredient Butternut Squash Soup recipe by Marina Yanay-Triner calls for an entire butternut squash, which is equal to about five to six cups! With a sweet kick of lime and Medjool date, balanced by a savory dash of tamari sauce and veggie broth, this is the perfect collagen-inspiring meal to prep for the week!
3. Toasted Turmeric Milk Oat and Teff Porridge