We've all heard it before, and we all know it to be true. Even the prettiest of faces can become quite plain if not backed up good character.

But the old adage can also be taken quite literally. That is, what you put inside you has a direct and specific effect on how you look.

There are a whole host of delicious foods which will add zing to your skin. Introducing these to your diet is not only easy, but it will do far more than any topical application of cream ever could.

Top nutritionist Amanda Ursell has put together a list of the best beauty-enhancing foods. Says Amanda: 'Research has begun to reveal how vitamins, minerals and super nutrients in food can help from improving skin smoothness to improving skin elasticity and counteracting some of the sun’s ageing damage.

Good skin care regimes, using sun protection creams and not soaking up too many rays are still key anti-ageing tips, but scientists are starting to find that foods and drinks can be real beauty-boosters.'

Our favourite part? It turns out chocolate - far from giving you spots - is extremely good for you...

1 Dark Chocolate

Rich in super nutrients called epicatechin and catechin. When experts gave women a cocoa drink that was extra-rich in these super nutrients, they showed that over a three-month period, their skin quality improved, revealing better hydration and reduced roughness.

2 Spinach

In Italy, researchers have shown that supplementing with 10mg of the yellow pigment called lutein, which is naturally found in spinach (it’s yellowness is hidden by the more dominant green pigments present), has helped to improve elasticity of our skin. In theory, the more elastic the skin, the more it springs back into place after making facial expressions, and the less prone to fine line and wrinkles it is.

beauty spinach

3 Carrots

The orange tinge that fair-skinned people get through eating a lot of carrots is down to an accumulation of their orange pigment called beta-carotene. One theory is that it acts like a parasol in our skin, helping to scatter harmful rays as well as boosting the action of sun-protecting creams.

4 Tomatoes

Tomatoes are bursting with a red pigment named lycopene.  When people have been given 40mg of tomato paste daily, which is just over a tablespoon worth (containing 16mg of lycopene), skin showed a definite reduction in redness triggered by ultra violet rays in the sun.  Lycopene is best absorbed once it has been cooked with a little oil. Using tomato puree and canned tomatoes in dishes like spaghetti Bolognese or chill con carne is an ideal way of upping your intake.  

5 Orange Juice

This drink is an easy way to get lots of vitamin C, a nutrient that is vital for helping our body to make collagen. Collagen acts a bit like a body stocking in our skin, helping to give it firmness and keeping its plump and youthful-look as we grow older.  Vitamin C also helps to repair damage skin cells damaged by pollution, sunlight, cigarette smoke and car fumes.Along with oranges and orange juice (which also give us the protective yellow pigment lutein), grapefruit, strawberries, peppers and dark green leafy vegetables all help to give us vitamin C. It’s a vitamin that we can not store, and so need to eat it daily.

6 Tofu

Soya milk, soya yoghurt and  tofu are some of the foods that are rich in isoflavones. These super nutrients are very similar to our own human hormone called oestrogen, which we need in order to help our skin make good quality collagen and lubricating oils. Skin experts feel that having them in our diets may help to slow down thinning in our skin, and the process that encourages the formation of fine lines and then wrinkles.  

7 Tuna  

Fresh tuna, salmon and other oily fish like mackerel, sardines and anchovies all give us omega 3 oils. These essential fats may be especially helpful for anyone with dry, red and itchy skin caused by skin conditions like psoriasis.  All fish is also great for protein, another essential nutrient needed to allow us to make collagen.

beauty tuna

8 Prawns

Prawns give us copper, a trace mineral our skin needs to make melanin, the natural dark pigment that helps to give us protection against sun damage. Like vitamin C and protein, we also need copper to make collagen and another important skin component called elastin, which allows our skin to stretch and then ping back into place after smiling, laughing and so on, without leaving deep, ageing expression lines.

9 Muesli

Any cereal made with oats like porridge, oatmeal, and oat based muesli’s will give us silica, a trace mineral that herbalists have used for years to beautify skin. Our skin contains the highest amount of silica anywhere in our bodies, indicating its importance to skin health. It seems to be needed to make the spongy cells that lie between collagen fibres, helping to stop them getting tangled, a process involved in thinning the skin.

10 Water

Water is vital for good hydration, which we need to keep our skin keep our skin looking as plump. Water is present in everything from teas and coffees to orange juice and soya milk as well as fruits and vegetables. Make a conscious effort to drink water as well as getting it from these other sources just to ensure you remain ‘topped up’.