Singaporean Food Rich in Collagen
We all want to stay forever young—when our skin had its natural bounce and lustre and wearing makeup was more of an option than a necessity to look alive in the morning. So when you start to see the frown lines form, and the bags under your eyes sink further down your face, we understand your pain.
You thought you had #adulting covered—until you realised that collagen’s molecules are too large to even be absorbed directly into our skin. If you didn’t know that, then sorry we had to burst your bubble.
Thankfully, for us Singaporeans, lots of foods available to us contain collagen naturally. So with the help of every #auntie out there, we rounded up the top locally-found foods that will help you ‘bao yang’ for a long time.
The Big Deal about Collagen
Collagen is the main structural protein found throughout our skin and hair. It’s the reason why a baby’s cheeks are bouncy and firm. It helps fight off two of our arch-enemies (cellulite and stretch marks) while keeping cracking bones and stiff joints away.
The only problem with collagen is that our body produces less of it as we grow older. So while collagen molecules in our skincare may be too large to be absorbed through our skin, consuming collagen-rich food works best.
If expensive pills aren’t your thing, here are 10 naturally collagen-rich foods you need to know.
Bone broth is literally cooked collagen. When bones are boiled for many hours, the collagen within is broken down and becomes a sort of gelatin that’s easier for us to digest.
It can be found in the form of Bak Kut Teh or in Tonkotsu Ramen, where soup is made by simmering pork bones for 24 hours. There are many other traditional Asian soups including Lotus Root soup that are also rich in collagen.
Pork feet aka Pig’s Trotters are known to be high in collagen and low in fat, which makes them ideal for consumption. Pork is also rich in gelatin, which lines and protects our guts from germs that cause illnesses.
Soy products (Beancurd, Soy Milk, etc.) help us get rid of wrinkles and fine lines due to their Genistelin content. Genistelin is a natural plant hormone that improves the production of collagen to firm up our skin—now we’ve got more reason to hit up Lao Ban Dou Hua for supper.
White fungus is known as “the poor man’s Bird’s Nest” because it has the same amount of collagen for 50 times less the price. It’s easily found in many TCM and Chinese dessert stores.
The OG source of collagen, bird’s nest can be bought local brands such as Eu Yan Sang to Dragon Brand. But of course, it doesn’t come cheap—unless your mum just boiled you a bowl FOC.
Fish collagen is absorbed 1.5 times more efficiently than other types of collagen (bovine or porcine), which means that it enters the bloodstream more quickly and gives you the fastest visible results. So next time you’re picking your dishes at your favourite Zhi Char stall, consider a fish head steamboat instead. Pro-tip: we heard the best part to eat is the cheeks.
Oysters are naturally rich in zinc, an essential element in building collagen. You can opt for some atas fresh oysters or our local version—Orh Luak.
Fish maw is a good source of collagen, and improves the circulation of blood to the face, helping to maintain a healthy and youthful complexion. It’s even believed to improve the skin of pregnant women’s babies.
Red vegetables and dark green vegetables
Red vegetables contain Lycopene, which acts as a natural sunblock and increases your skin’s sun protection to prevent collagen destruction.
Dark green vegetables increase collagen production and help protect against radicals that break down collagen prematurely. So there’s no need to feel guilty about ordering that extra plate of Sambal Kang Kong!
The claw of the chicken feet is high in collagen and helps us maintain the elasticity of our skin. Whether it’s in a braised or boiled down in a broth, the collagen doesn’t get lost in the cooking process.
White tea deactivates two enzymes—elastase and collagenase—that break collagen down. Its antioxidant properties also help in repair and recovery of damaged skin. Not to mention it protects your skin against effects of the intense rays of Singapore’s sun. There’s no need to go to speciality stores either as white tea can be found in most supermarkets such as NTUC and Cold Storage.
Garlic is a good source of sulphur, which is necessary for replenishing collagen in the body. It also provides other minerals (lipoic acid and taurine) to help repair damaged collagen fibres. Lucky for us, garlic is present in almost everything from fried rice to our usual steamed fish.
Collagen Foods in Singapore
How often can you say the solution to your ageing problems is pigging out on some delish local fare? Save on the collagen skincare and book you and your babes a table at your nearest steamboat spot for some shiok bone broth.