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Glowing skin and glossy hair don’t just come from bottles or jars. The truth is, you have to nourish hair, nails, and skin from within, with a diet rich in beauty-supportive nutrients from whole foods. Some of the best:
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Also called pepitas, are high in copper, a mineral that helps develop collagen and elastin to keep skin strong, supple, and firm.
Copper also promotes the production of hyaluronic acid, a fluid that makes skin look fuller and plumper. Other good sources of copper: sesame seeds, cashews, soybeans, mushrooms, and tempeh.
Try this: Sauté pepitas with coconut oil, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cayenne to taste; add toasted pepitas and minced dried figs to cooked brown rice; toss raw corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, finely chopped green onions, and pepitas with olive oil and lemon juice.
Kale is high in vitamin C, which speeds the healing of bruises and wounds. It’s also rich in vitamin K, which can help reduce dark undereye circles, both internally and topically. Other good sources of vitamin K include spinach, mustard greens, collards, beet greens, and chard.
Related: Green Protein Smoothie Recipe
Try this: Add finely minced kale to guacamole; cut kale into thin strips, toss with coconut oil, smoked salt, and smoked paprika, and bake till crispy; purée kale, garlic, olive oil, and cashews into pesto.
Parsley is rich in chlorophyll, which has long been used to purify blood and heal skin conditions such as eczema, rashes, wounds, and acne.
Other foods rich in chlorophyll include beet greens, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and turnip greens.
Try this: Pulse parsley, onions, olives, and capers in a food processor, and spread on crackers; stir minced parsley and basil into softened butter, and refrigerate till firm; combine parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and olive oil for a chimichurri-style topping or marinade.
Strawberries contain silica, a trace mineral that keeps hair and nails strong, ensures elasticity of skin, and promotes wound healing.
They’re also high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from oxidative damage. Other good sources of vitamin C include papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and pineapple.
Try this: Purée strawberries with fresh basil and freeze in an ice cream maker for a grown-up sorbet; drizzle balsamic syrup over sliced strawberries, then top with a dollop of mascarpone cheese; toss strawberries with baby arugula, pistachios, and raspberry vinaigrette.
Seaweed is rich in compounds called fucoxanthins, which protect the skin from cellular damage and wrinkle formation, and may prevent sun-induced skin cancer.
Seaweed is also rich in minerals that encourage hair growth. Seaweeds to try include kombu, arame, and wakame.
Try this: Add soaked and drained arame and a handful of pumpkin seeds to cooked quinoa; stir toasted wakame flakes into roasted butternut squash cubes; simmer beans and long-cooking stews with a strip of kombu.
Did You Know? Avocado is a great source of vitamin C, which the body needs to produce elastin and collagen, two compounds that help keep skin firm.
6. Green Tea
Green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from aging and skin cancers, and may repair existing damage, especially if applied topically.
Try this: Poach salmon and sliced onions in strong-brewed green tea; make a matcha (powdered green tea), spinach, coconut milk, and ginger smoothie; cook rice noodles, vegetables, and garlic in brewed green tea and tamari for a fast noodle bowl.
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and ellagic acid, which can help prevent free radical damage from sun and aging, and prevent skin cancer.
It also helps reduce inflammation and speeds wound healing. Other good sources of ellagic acid include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, walnuts, and pecans.
Try this: Add a splash of pomegranate juice and a handful of pomegranate seeds to sparkling water; add pomegranate seeds to a salad of fennel, pears, walnuts, and orange segments; mix with diced avocado, mango, and lime for an exotic salsa.
Almonds are rich in biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps prevent hair loss and keeps hair shiny and strong.
Sweet potatoes, eggs, onions, oats, and tomatoes are other good sources of biotin. Eating biotin-rich foods with foods high in pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is thought to be especially helpful for hair and skin. Mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato, lentils, and chicken are great sources of pantothenic acid.
Try this: Toss toasted slivered almonds with sweet potatoes and minced rosemary; combine chopped almonds, avocado cubes, diced yellow bell peppers, and minced red onions, and serve in lettuce cups; grind almonds and dried herbs into a coarse meal and use to coat chicken breasts before pan-cooking.