(NaturalNews) Looking a bit pale and even pasty this winter? If you can't fly to the tropics to get a tan, you don't have to turn to bronzers and make-up to make your skin glow. New research headed by Dr. Ian Stephen at the University of Nottingham in Great Britain concludes that eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can give you an even more healthy golden skin tone than the sun -- without the use of make-up.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, found that people who eat several portions of fruit and veggies daily have a more golden skin color, thanks to carotenoids. These nutrients are abundant in orange and red colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help protect the immune, cardiovascular and reproductive systems.
"Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective," Dr. Stephen said in a media statement.
"We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color," he added. "So if you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun."
Dr Stephen stated that the study is important because it could back up the concept that evolution favors those who choose to form alliances or mate with healthy individuals over unhealthy individuals -- and a healthy skin tone from eating plenty of fruits and veggies could indicate good health. While it's true the new research only involved Caucasians, the paper also describes a study that suggests the effect exists for other races, and too. In fact, similar preferences for skin with a yellowish glow were found in an African population.
"This is something we share with many other species. For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What's more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans," researcher Professor David Perrett noted in the press statement.