Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our bodies and has many functions and benefits. It is found in blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones, skin, and organs. It helps nourish our skin and keep it healthy. Additionally, it can help reduce the signs of aging and provide support to the immune system [*].
As we grow older, our natural production of collagen begins to decrease so it’s recommended that we seek outside sources of collagen in order to prevent conditions, such as osteoarthritis [*]
Collagen declines may lead to:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Joint pain
- Weakening muscles
- Stiffer ligaments and tendons
Poor diet is one of the reasons people do not have sufficient collagen. The human body will not be able to produce collagen if it lacks the essential elements. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar can cause inflammation and is one of the main ways that can damage your body’s collagen.
Top Benefits of Collagen
- Helps relieve joint pain [*][*]
- Supports immune health [*]
- Enhances skin health and elasticity [*]
- Supports heart health [*][*]
- Promotes digestive health [*]
As mentioned above, getting collagen from supplements and food sources usually become necessary as we get older. Incorporating these collagen-rich foods into your diet can improve your overall health, making you less likely to get sick, and better able to fight off diseases.
Top Food Sources of Collagen
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen. In addition to collagen, it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Research has shown that bone broth can help decrease joint and muscle pain. On top of this, this nutritious powerhouse also helps boost digestive health, skin health, and hair health [*].
Bone broth comes in liquid and powdered form. You can drink it on its own or use it in recipes that call for broth or stock. You can also use it in soups and stews.
- LEARN MORE: The Benefits of Adding Bone Broth To Your Diet
2. Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is mainly composed of fat and protein. Animal protein consists of essential amino acids that your body needs for sustenance and growth. Moreover, the nutrients in grass-fed beef help synthesize collagen [*]. Grass-fed beef also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, and minerals that are associated with several health benefits [*].
3. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, have antioxidant properties due to chlorophyll. Studies show eating chlorophyll-rich vegetables can support the synthesis of collagen [*]. Green leafy vegetables are also a good source of vitamin C, which plays a critical role in the production of pro-collagen, a precursor of collagen [*].
4. Citrus Fruits
Like leafy greens, citrus fruits contain significant amounts of vitamin C. They also contain an array of plant compounds and minerals that your body needs to function optimally.
- LEARN MORE: The Best Foods for Immune Health
Egg whites contain significant amounts of proline, an amino acid essential for the synthesis of collagen [*][*]. Egg yolks are full of healthy fats and vitamin D that help your muscles, bones, and skin. This superfood also contains calcium, vitamin K, vitamin E, and zinc [*].
- TRY THIS RECIPE: Paleo Egg Muffins
Gelatin is obtained from collagen and has a special combination of amino acids. Research suggests that gelatin plays a vital role in brain and joint health. Gelatin is also an excellent source of glycine that has been associated with improved attention and memory [*][*]. In fact, glycine has been found to help improve schizophrenia and other mental health disorders [*]. Plus, the protein may also enhance the appearance of hair and skin [*]. You can easily prepare gelatin at home, or you can purchase it from the grocery store and add it to your drinks and food.
7. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts contain palmitoleic acid that has been shown to boost the production of collagen [*][*]. They are also a valuable source of copper, which plays a vital role in the synthesis of collagen [*][*]. Eating macadamia nuts may improve your health in several ways. For example, studies show that this superfood may help boost brain health and decrease your risk of heart disease [*][*][*].
- LEARN MORE: The Top 5 Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
Add More Collagen To Your Diet
As you can see, collagen is critical to optimal health and there are many delicious food sources that can support collagen production. Eating collagen-rich foods can offer many benefits, including a stronger immune system, improved gut health, and healthier skin, nails, bones, and joints.