Skin Food: The Top 5 Skin-Loving Superfoods
Good skin (and health) of course depend on the overall balance of your diet, but including these five skin-loving ‘superfoods’ will also help. Including these skin foods as a regular part of your weekly diet, can help you to achieve healthy skin. Provided the rest of your diet is based on whole, unprocessed foods and you are getting plenty of sleep, exercise and managing your stress levels, you will see visible benefits.
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 essential fats, which act as a natural moisturiser and illuminator for your skin from within. Deficiencies in omega-3s can lead to premature wrinkles and dry skin, as well as causing brittle nails and lackluster hair. Omega-3’s also have anti-inflammatory actions in the body, helping to soothe any breakouts or redness of the skin. In addition, salmon is a top source of the mineral selenium, which supports our internal antioxidant defence systems, to protect us against oxidative stress. It also provides protein which is needed for collagen formation. The pigment that gives salmon its pink colour, called astaxanthin, is being hailed as an anti-ageing wonder nutrient. Research indicates a host of benefits including reducing inflammation and improving skin’s appearance, by reducing wrinkles and improving elasticity. DMAE is another skin saving nutrient found in fish, and especially high in salmon. It helps reduce the production of a substance called arachidonic acid, which contributes to wrinkles and stimulates the nerve impulses that tell facial muscles to contract, helping skin look firmer.
Target: 2-3 servings per week, along with other fish and seafood.
Tip: Bake or poach and don’t heat above 180°C to retain the nutrients.
Pomegranates contain a substance called punicalagins, an extremely powerful antioxidant. This is present both in the skin and the juice of the pomegranate and has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Both oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to skin damage and ageing, so anything that can reduce these, should benefit skin condition. Pomegranates are also a good source of vitamins, including vitamins K, A and E and vitamin C, which is needed for healthy collagen formation. One study found that pomegranate extract can protect the skin fibroblast cells (the ones that make collagen) against damage and death from UVA and UVB rays.
Tip: B&G drinks contain pomegranate concentrate, so are a convenient way to get your daily dose of this amazing skin food.
An excellent source of vitamin E, which helps skin retain moisture and aids skin healing. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, so it protects skin from the ageing effects of free radicals. Vitamin E can also help protect against sun damage and reduce inflammation in the skin, which is involved in acne and skin rashes. The healthy monounsaturated fats present in avocados also act as a natural moisturiser and softener for skin. Avocadoes contain a type of fat called oleic acid, which can help maintain moisture levels in the epidermis layer. Avocadoes are also another great source of antioxidants, including carotenoids, which have been linked with many health benefits, including improving skin health and appearance.
Target: include avocados 2-3 times per week
Try: avocado on toast, with toasted mixed seeds for a skin-feeding lunch
Spirulina is a blue-green algae, often referred to as a ‘complete food’ due its exceptionally high nutrient content, which includes most of the essential nutrients our bodies need. These include protein, essential fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Spirulina is very rich in protein, including all the essential amino acids and providing the amino acid ‘building blocks’ needed for collagen and elastin production. It contains a type of essential fat called GLA, which has anti-inflammatory effects and can help balance hormones and alleviate eczema. Spirulina also has detoxifying effects in the body, making it good for maintaining clear skin. It is an excellent source of iron for maintaining good energy levels, magnesium, manganese and iodine to support thyroid function.
Tip: B&G Detox contains spirulina, so is a convenient and tasty way to add this super-food to your regular diet.
Vegetables such as carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes contain particularly high levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely colour. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to ‘skin hero’ vitamin A, an essential nutrient for skin integrity – meaning skin that is firm, resists damage and can heal quickly. Beta-carotene itself also helps to prevent the free radical damage that can result in ageing, as it has antioxidant effects. Orange veg also provide a good dose of vitamin C for healthy collagen formation, plus vitamin E and a host of other protective plant compounds. Just 100g of sweet potato provides the RDA for vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also good for building-up natural protection against the sun and preventing sun damage to the skin.
Tip: roast cubes of squash and sweet potato as a side dish for dinner and make extra to add to your salad the next day
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