Men, if you're looking to be more attractive to the opposite sex, a new study suggests loading up on carotenoid-packed fruits and veggies to achieve a healthy skin tone.
In a study from the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, researchers found that women find men with a "golden" skin tone more appealing than those with defined masculine facial features, such as a defined jawline.
Head researcher Ian Stephen, a psychologist with the university, and his colleagues took photographs of 34 white and 41 black men's faces, measuring both the color and masculinity of their faces.
"We used this [computer] technique to mathematically compare the shape of the men's faces to a similar sample of women's faces from the same populations," Stephen said in statement.
They then showed the photos to 62 women, about half black and half white, who then rated the attractiveness of the men. For both ethnic groups, facial masculinity wasn't nearly as important as skin tone -- although skin tone only mattered when women rated men of their own race. Researchers cited this as being perhaps because the women were unable to detect subtle skin color variations in men of other ethnicities.
How to achieve the coveted golden hue? Stephen attributes this to carotenoid pigments of the fruits and vegetables in our diet, Stephen explained, adding that those plant pigments may promote health and fertility. The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
"Our study shows that being healthy may be the best way for men to look attractive," he said. "We know that you can achieve a more healthy-looking skin color by eating more fruit and vegetables, so that would be a good start."
This research builds on another study by Stephen and his team that found that when subjects ate five extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day for two months, they were rated as more attractive thanks to the carotenoid-induced "golden" hue of their skin, stated the researchers. The study was published in December 2010 by the same journal.
On Friday, health website LiveScience reported that previous studies have suggested that heterosexual women find men with manly faces -- prominent cheek bones, heavy brows, and a defined jaw line -- most attractive, particularly during ovulation.