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Acne-fighting recipes

Dale Pinnock, renowned nutritionist, medical herbalist, chef and health expert, teaches us a couple of acne-fighting recipes that will make your skin glow from the inside out!


Acne has got to be one of the most distressing skin conditions that anyone can suffer from and it has quite a simple cause: too much sebum (oil) is released from the skin’s sebaceous glands; or the sebum has an increased viscosity; or there’s a combination of the two. Most commonly it is as a result of puberty, and in young males. However, there are other causes such as hormonal fluctuations in women.


There are several acne remedies on the market, from spot treatments and facemasks, to over-the-counter gels and even prescription antibiotics. However, most of us seem to forget that diet and lifestyle have a massive impact upon the health of our skin, and the severity and healing time of skin lesions such as acne.


A great way of improving your skin condition is to supplement your skincare regiment with some dietary tweaks, adding to your diet nutrients proven to have acne-fighting properties, such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Fat-soluble antioxidants

Great acne-fighting foods rich in the above nutrients are:

  • Pumpkin seeds – high in zinc and fatty acids
  • Prawns (shrimps) – high in zinc, selenium and the powerful carotenoid astaxanthin
  • Red (bell) peppers – high in anti-inflammatory beta carotene
  • Sweet potatoes – high in beta carotene and proteins to help support immune system


Keep scrolling to read two great recipes incorporating lots of acne-fighting foods and the benefits of their ingredients . . . who knew a delicious meal could help get rid of spots?!


Proper (Bell) Pepper Soup recipe – serves 2 to 4 people

This soup is gorgeous and nutrient-rich. Serve with a nice lump of fresh wholemeal bread, and get transported to heaven!

  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red (bell) peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • vegetable stock

Sauté the onion and garlic along with a pinch of salt in a little olive oil, until the onion has softened.

Add the red (bell) peppers and sweet potato to the pan with the onion and garlic.

Add enough vegetable stock to cover all the ingredients, and simmer until the potatoes have softened.

At this point, use a hand blender, or add to a food processor, and blend into a smooth soup.




Red (Bell) Peppers are bursting with a whole range of powerful compounds. The chemicals responsible for the deep vivid red colour are compounds called flavonoids, which have a very powerful antioxidant property. All varieties of (bell) pepper contain a large amount of a compound called beta carotene, which is also a colour pigment, ranging from yellow to deep orange. Beta carotene is the plant source of vitamin A. Beta carotene is also a fat-soluble antioxidant. This means that it will be most active within fatty tissues, especially the fatty areas of subcutaneous tissue of the skin. This will help to protect the skin from free radical damage, and can help to maintain elasticity and plumpness.


Helpful Hint: When buying red (bell) peppers, buy the darkest-coloured ones that you can find. The darker they are, the higher the concentration of the antioxidant flavonoids.


Sweet Potatoes are also very rich sources of beta carotene. It is this compound that is responsible for the vivid orange colour of their flesh.


Thai Prawn (Shrimp) Curry recipe – serves 2 to 4 people


This recipe is a slight diversion from a true Thai taste because it includes tomatoes, but with the red curry paste and the coconut, it gives a wonderful fusion flavour that is halfway between Indian and Thai.

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 400 g/14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 50 g/2 oz sachet of coconut cream
  • 400 g/14 oz prawns (shrimps) (fresh or frozen)

Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in a little coconut oil, until the onion softens.

Stir in the red curry paste and sauté for a further 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add in the tomatoes, and the coconut cream, and simmer for about 8 minutes, which will thicken the sauce considerably.

Add in the prawns (shrimps). If they were cooked, simmer for 3 minutes. If they were raw, simmer for about 8 minutes.

At the last minute I sometimes stir in a bit of spinach to add a dash of colour and extra nutrients.

Serve with quinoa and salad.




Prawns (shrimps) are very dense in the minerals zinc and selenium. Selenium is one of the most commonly deficient trace elements in the Western world and is vitally important for the long-term health and protection of all tissues, including the skin. This is because it is the chemical precursor to the body’s own inbuilt antioxidant enzyme, super oxide dismutase (SOD). This is a very powerful antioxidant that can protect all tissues, including the skin, from free radical damage. Zinc plays several vital roles in skin health. Firstly, it regulates the activity of the sebaceous glands, helping to normalize their secretions. Secondly, zinc is vital for regulating the activity of white blood cells, due to its role in controlling genetic activity within these cells. This makes zinc extra important in issues such as acne.


Tomatoes are rich with another of the fat-soluble antioxidants lycopene. This antioxidant has long been promoted for male health, but is in fact fabulous for the long-term health of the skin. As a fat-soluble compound, it will naturally migrate into the fatty subcutaneous layer of the skin, where it can offer protection against free radical damage.


Red onions are a very rich source of dietary sulphur. This often forgotten mineral is a vital component in the manufacture of all connective tissues, including the extracellular matrix. This is the criss-cross lattice that is woven between tissues and collagen fibres which helps to give tissues their rigid structure. The skin is very dense in this structure, and we need to ensure we have a regular supply of dietary sulphur to maintain it. Red onions are also very rich in a group of powerful antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. These are the compounds that give them their deep purple colour pigment.



Recipe extracts from The Clear Skin Cookbook by Dale Pinnock.