Want to be more beautiful? The formula for promoting smooth, glowing skin doesn't have to be complicated, cost hundreds of dollars, or take months to work. It can be as simple as eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats; drinking plenty of filtered water; and avoiding excessive caffeine consumption, which dehydrates cells and makes fine lines more noticeable. Other skin-zapping foods: sugar, which damages collagen and elastin, the fibers in skin that keep it smooth and firm; refined and high-glycemic carbs, linked with an increase in acne breakouts; and alcohol, which dehydrates cells and causes dilated blood vessels and facial redness. In addition, a few foods top the list for skin beautifying. Some of the best:
1. Asparagus is high in antioxidants including glutathione, which helps protect skin from sun damage and minimizes the effects of aging. It's also high in vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, zinc, and other skin-beautifying nutrients, and works as a natural diuretic to reduce puffiness and swelling. Eat it very lightly cooked or raw to protect the glutathione content.
2. Salmon contains 2-dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE, a compound found naturally in the brain. DMAE protects cell membrane integrity to keep skin smooth and firm, and helps inhibit the body's production of arachidonic acid, a compound that encourages wrinkles, sagging, and signs of aging. Salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of skin cancer. Choose wild Alaskan salmon instead of farmed. Sardines and other small fatty fish have similar benefits.
3. Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats that keep cell membranes strong and flexible, encourage smooth skin, and prevent and treat eczema. Almonds are also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can not only protect against, but also reverse, skin damage from the sun's UV rays. Other nuts have similar benefits.
4. Avocado contains the skin-healing vitamins A, D, and E, and is rich in antioxidant carotenoids that prevent free radical damage to skin cells. Studies have shown that some constituents of avocado offer protection against UV damage to skin cells. And like almonds and other nuts, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats.
5. Spinach is rich in vitamin K, a fat- soluble vitamin that helps keep skin springy and firm and helps prevent wrinkles and fine lines. It's also a good source of lutein, a type of carotenoid that helps protect the skin from sun damage. Plus, spinach contains zinc, which guards against blemishes and breakouts.
6. Ruby red grapefruit gets its pink hue from a potent antioxidant called lycopene (also found in tomatoes and guava) that fights free radical damage to the skin and protects against wrinkles, sagging, and skin discolorations. Several studies have shown that lycopene can also protect against burning from the sun's UV rays.
7. Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, is rich in glucosinolates, cancer-preventive compounds that also protect the skin from free radical damage. Studies show that isothiocyanates, which are converted from glucosinolates, can prevent wrinkles and stimulate skin detoxification. In one study, an isothiocyanate extract increased firmness and smoothness of skin in people who worked outdoors in the winter and were exposed to cold weather and low humidity.
8. Arugula, like cauliflower, is rich in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, cancer-fighting compounds that also protect the skin from free radicals and sun damage. Some studies show that isothiocyanates prevent inflammation in the skin and can protect against psoriasis. Arugula also stimulates the liver, and can promote skin detoxification.
9. Blackberries are good sources of skin-protective vitamins A, C, and K. They are also high in anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for their deep purple color and their ability to protect against cellular damage. Blackberries contain another antioxidant called ellagic acid, which helps shield the skin from damage by the sun's UV rays and helps repair existing damage from excessive sun exposure. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have similar benefits.
- Salmon en Papillote with Arugula Pesto
- Asparagus Bundles with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
- Spinach, Avocado, and Ruby Grapefruit Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette
- Creamy Cauliflower Bisque with Chive Oil
Lisa Turner is a certified food psychology coach, nutritional healer, intuitive eating consultant, and author. She has written five books on food and nutrition and developed the Inspired Eats iPhone app. Visit her online at inspiredeating.com.