✓ Evidence Based

12 Collagen Rich and Collagen Boosting Foods

Collagen is a type of protein responsible for cellular formation in the connective tissue throughout the body (1).

There are at least 16 different kinds of collagen, although the collagen in the body only consists of three types (2).

Collagen proteins help promote more elasticity in the skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and more (1), (3). It is not only to prevent wrinkles (4).

The skin is the largest organ in the body, so keeping it healthy and intact is important (5). Collagen plays a crucial role in skin health as well as wound healing (5), (6).

Collagen supplements are notably popular, but they may not always be necessary. The easiest way to gain more collagen into your body is to eat a balanced diet high in this essential protein or other nutrients, like vitamin C, that are crucial for collagen synthesis (7), (8), (9).

Summary: Collagen is a type of protein helpful for skin elasticity, bones, ligaments, tendons, nails, and hair. A healthy diet is important to boost collagen levels and strengthen skin, hair, and nails.

Foods that are high in or help boost Collagen

Many foods are naturally high in collagen or can help with collagen synthesis. Check out the list below to see if you eat any of these foods regularly.

1. Beef

Beef is full of many essential amino acids and protein that your body can use to produce more collagen (10).

As you age, it is usually necessary to eat more foods high in collagen to promote better skin, bone, and joint health. Beef contains many essential nutrients as well, including necessary zinc, selenium, and more (11). Some of these help with the synthesis of collagen, too (2).

Summary: Beef is rich in essential amino acids, protein, zinc, and selenium, which helps to produce collagen. A good serving of beef is about 3 ounces, or the size of your palm.

2. Chicken

Chicken is also extremely high in collagen (2), (12). Most collagen comes from animal sources unless it’s in a supplement or powder form. Chicken is a lean meat that can be a part of a healthy balanced diet (13).

 

It’s especially helpful at promoting collagen production to enhance skin, joint, and bone health (14).

Everyone needs the nine essential amino acids that meat like the chicken has (15). These amino acids along with collagen are the building blocks of muscle and cellular renewal throughout the body (16).

Summary: Chicken is also rich in protein and essential amino acids, which helps to produce collagen. Chicken breast is a lean protein option that can be easily incorporated into any meal.

3. Fish

Fish is a healthy part of a balanced diet, and it is an excellent source of collagen (17). Fish also has many other health benefits.

Many types of fish are nutrient dense, and all of them have tons of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, essential B vitamins, selenium, and powerful antioxidants (18). Some of the healthiest fatty fish to eat to produce more collagen include salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring and more.

Get the many health benefits from this fish from a can, frozen, or fresh. The skin of the fish also packs in a lot of collagen, so be sure to eat the skin of the fish, too.

Summary: Fish is very nutritious, rich in amino acids, protein, essential omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, selenium, antioxidants, and of course collagen. Salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and herring are great choices. Fish is easy to sauté, bake, or grill.

4. Beans

The body needs a variety of essential amino acids to produce collagen (2). Beans have many of these these crucial amino acids (19).

An excellent source of plant-based protein, beans are also full of essential B vitamins, fiber, and much more (20). Pick your favorite type of bean and try to mix it into your meal prep rotation every so often to change up your routine.

Summary: The body needs essential amino acids to produce collagen, and beans are full of them. They are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and plant-based protein. Add beans to chili, stews, soups, or mash some up for a quick bean dip.

5. Eggs

Eggs are another animal-based food, and they are high in essential amino acids that are needed for collagen production (21). Remember to eat the whole egg to get all the nutrition out of the egg yolk, although the egg whites contain the most protein. Egg whites are high in proline, a necessary amino acid for collagen production (22).

Mix in some eggs with some vegetables below to get an extra nutritious boost of collagen. Do not be afraid to add some eggs to your diet for more nutrition. They do not have to lead to high cholesterol and weight gain when they are part of a healthy balanced diet.

Summary: Eggs are also high in essential amino acids needed for collagen production. The whole egg, including the yolk, provides ample vitamins, minerals, and protein. Egg whites are especially high in proline, an amino acid needed to produce collagen. One to two eggs per day is a perfect serving.

6. Dairy

Dairy is another popular food that packs in a whole lot protein needed to produce collagen in the body (23).

Dairy also has many essential nutrients like vitamin A, D, calcium, and more (24).

However, not all people can consume dairy in their diets. Some are lactose intolerant, or allergic (25). Always choose the foods that are right for your unique body.

Summary: Dairy foods are packed with protein, vitamins A, D, calcium, and amino acids needed to produce collagen. Low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are great choices to boost collagen intake.

7. Bone Broth

Bone broth is a trendy way to get more collagen into your diet. While recent research has found that bone broth may not be a reliable a source of collagen, it still has many beneficial nutrients (26).

Bone broth is a flavorful base for stews, soups, and more. You can add both broths to soups as a base, or you can even drink it plain for the potent health benefits.

There are many types of flavors available, too. Some bone broths have turmeric and other herbs and spices to give it a more flavorful punch. Bone broth is high in many essential minerals that can help to promote health, too (27).

Summary: Bone broth is a great nutrient source to get more collagen into your diet. It makes a flavorful base to soups, stews, and chilis, or can even be drank plain. Add turmeric, oregano, or other herbs and spices to give it more flavor.

8. Berries

Berries like blueberries and strawberries are full of heart-healthy antioxidants and nutrients that can promote collagen production.

All kinds of berries are rich in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis (28). The rich blue color in blueberries comes from a long list of antioxidants, too. Some berries are an excellent source of magnesium, folate, and more (29).

The bright red color of strawberries is one to note, too. They get their bright red color from the flavonoids called anthocyanins. Flavonoids like this have natural anti-inflammatory benefits (30). Berries are also rich in phosphorus and other essential vitamins (31).

Summary: Berries are full of heart-healthy antioxidants and nutrients that promote collagen production. They are also rich in fiber, magnesium, folate, and antioxidant properties. Eat a bowl of berries as a snack or add some to breakfast oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal.

9. Oysters

Oysters are an excellent source of zinc and copper, which are two crucial minerals necessary for collagen production (32).

You may think it is hard to get oysters because they are expensive and not always in season. But there are other ways to get health benefits at a cheaper price than the fresh varieties. You can easily buy oysters in the can for a quick and highly nutritious dinner. Mix it with your favorite spices and ingredients and get some more collagen production moving in your body.

Summary: Oysters are rich in zinc and copper, which are important nutrients for collagen production. Oysters can be found in the store fresh, frozen, or canned for your convenience. Simply mix them with your favorite spices and enjoy with pasta, crackers, or accompanied with vegetables.

10. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, bok choy, and more are excellent foods to boost collagen production. That is because they are extremely high in vitamin C, along with many other essential nutrients (33). Vitamin C is necessary to covert collagen in the body (28).

Leafy greens have many health-protecting phytonutrients, along with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, and even plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (34).

Make sure your diet has some form of dark leafy greens frequently. There are plenty of options and varieties to pick from, too. You can try dandelion greens, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, kale, bok Choy, turnip greens, or broccoli.

Summary: Dark leafy greens are extremely nutritious. Kale, spinach, bok choy, swiss chard, arugula, broccoli, and turnip greens are great options. They are rich in many nutrients, especially vitamin C, which are helpful for producing collagen. Add dark leafy greens into your daily diet.

11. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and more are all full of beneficial vitamin C (33). While they do not contain any collagen, the only way collagen synthesis can happen is if the body has adequate amounts of vitamin C (28). That is where citrus fruits come in.

Grab some citrus fruits to eat frequently to drive your collagen production into gear.

Summary: Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and lime are full of vitamin C, which is an important nutrient for collagen synthesis. Squeeze citrus fruits into water, salads, or smoothies, or simply snack on oranges or grapefruits often.

12. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a type of legume that also does not contain any collagen. But chickpeas contain high amounts of plant-based protein and some vitamin C and zinc, which are necessary for collagen synthesis, too (35), (36).

Chickpeas are easy to add to your diet in the form of a snack or even as a healthy plant-based protein source. The easiest way to get your fill of chickpeas is through hearty and tasty hummus. Dip your vitamin C-rich veggies into hummus for a potent snack to boost collagen. They are not only high in protein, but they are also a great source of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.

Summary: Chickpeas are a popular legume that contain plant-based protein, vitamin C, and zinc, which are all important nutrients to produce collagen. Mash them into a tasty homemade hummus dip, add them to soup and stew, or simply roast them in the oven for a crunchy treat with olive oil, salt, and spices.

Conclusion

Many healthy foods are either high in collagen or can help to boost collagen production. There needs to be an equal balance of vitamins and nutrients in the body for adequate collagen production.

No one food is more important than the other. Just as collagen requires a synthesis in the body, so does the variety of healthy foods you eat.

Be sure to add in some or all these foods into your diet if you would like to boost collagen production and improve your overall health, too.