You know that you are what you eat, but did you know that the health and beauty of your skin also rely on what you eat, day in and day out? Here then are our picks for the most beautifying foods to add to your diet. After all, a nutrient-rich diet means a healthier you…and what could be prettier than that?
Good-for-you fat is derived from olives and extra virgin olive oil. The key ingredient here is oleic acid, which keeps the outer portion of our skin cells supple. This allows nutrients to enter and waste to exit, says dermatologist Nicholas Perricone. “Without good fats,” he adds, “we wouldn’t be able to absorb the antioxidants found in fruits, grains, and vegetables.” Consider castor oil for eyelash growth as well.
Yogurt, a superfood, is vital for healthy skin. It’s rich in probiotics, a form of beneficial bacteria that can calm inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema. With so many options these days, staying away from sugary versions should be simple enough. Or sweeten plain yogurt with honey, another healthy food.
The rumors are true: Dark chocolate can be as nutritious as it is delicious. Once again, skin-protecting antioxidants are the star nutrient; just make sure that it’s dark, which generally has higher levels of flavonol than milk or white chocolate. This delicious goodie is also said to increase skin hydration and reduce roughness.
Tasty Tomatoes and Luscious Lemons Red, orange, and deep-yellow fruits and vegetables are abundant in carotenoids (cancer-fighting antioxidants). Lycopene (the carotenoid in tomatoes) is more easily absorbed by our bodies when it’s cooked so whip up a marinara sauce, pronto! And that squeeze of a tangy lemon offers protection from heart disease thanks to the antioxidant limonene.
Not only are they delicious and juicy, but many berries, such as blueberries and raspberries, are also rich in anthocyanins, compounds that can help ward off UV damage. New berries — to Americans, anyway — are acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) from Brazil and goji (pronounced go-gee) berries from Tibet, which deliver a health boost due to their natural antioxidants.
We need protein to maintain and repair the body, including the skin, at a cellular level. Experts emphasize adding wild salmon, sardines, and trout to our diet. “Salmon’s bright pink or deep red color owes its pigment to astaxanthin, an antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties,” says dermatologist Dr. Perricone.
The Spice of Life
Keep your spice rack front and center, as many of your kitchen staples (cinnamon, garlic) and some more exotic spices (turmeric, cumin) are far more nutritious than we ever imagined. For instance, turmeric, the spice that gives curry and mustard their yellow-orange color, is full of vitamin B6, minerals and antioxidant properties.
Honey: How Sweet It Is
Its sweetness and luxurious texture are what spring to mind when we think of honey. But did you know that honey possesses a formidable amount of antioxidants, along with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which should earn it a spot in your first-aid kit, too? While all honey is not created equal, there is one type, Active Manuka honey from New Zealand, a dark variety with a herbaceous flavor, that has earned high praise from researchers. When ingested — either in your tea or spread on toast — it helps stimulate the immune system and clear infections. Topically, the FDA recently approved a honey-based wound-healing product featuring — you guessed it — Manuka honey.
Drink Your Vitamins
Nothing compares with eating your fruits and vegetables, but vitamins and ingestible supplements are solid runners-up. Try these options:
N.V. Perricone, MD, Super Berry Powder with Acai, $50 for 30 servings: One scoop mixed with 6&nbap;ounces of water delivers the antioxidant and fatty acid benefits of acai, a potent berry from Brazil.
Borba Skin Balance Water in Clarifying Pomegranate, $3 per bottle: A calorie-, sugar- and sodium-free way to combat oily skin, thanks to pomegranate and skin-clearing active ingredients.
Dr. Brandt Anti-Oxidant Water Booster in Blueberry, $35 for 60 servings: One dropper-full, mixed into a cup of water, contains 90 percent polyphenols, the antioxidant found in green tea.