I was a bit surprised that the best food for skin beauty was quite a bit different than our super foods list. A few of the foods on overlapped but overall they are completely different lists.
What's exciting about that is from a menu planning standpoint, this just expands the variety of great foods to eat. And we were also encouraged that this list reinforces the power of resveratrol. As in all our lists, resveratrol always shows up somewhere.
So let's start this healthy food for skin beauty list with the #1 choice:
Water is probably not what you were expecting on a food for skin list. It's colorless, flavorless and rarely solid, but it's the best food for clear skin you can invest in.
You know all those face creams that are sold as moisturizers? Well they're trying to lock moisture in your skin. Moisture is otherwise known as water. Skin relies heavily on hydration for its elasticity and clarity.
No other cells need to be as full functioning as skin cells. Being clearly visible to the world, both nourishment and waste removal are important. And both nutrient delivery and waste removal require hydration.
But don't go out and buy fancy bottled water, the best water is hard water from the tap as it is full of minerals and nutrients. When you hear commercials touting the skin softening effects of soft water, they're talking about showers not drinks. The part that makes hard water good on the inside leaves a residue on the outside. So if you use a water softener, don't use it at the sink.
There is no perfect amount of water that you should be drinking. Many suggest 8 glasses/day but that's certainly dependent on the amount of exercising you do as well as the heat and humidity in the air. No one disagrees however that thirst is a sign that you're too late - dehyrdration has already begun.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that carrots are the #1 food for skin health.
Remember learning about collagen? That's the stuff that keeps skin firm and toned. Well, Vitamin C is one of the producers of collagen, which carrots have in abundance.
But Vitamin C ain't all. Carrots have beta-carotene too which helps to give your skin a healthy glow (and helps improve vision too). That beta-carotene in your skin cells helps prevent sun damage - like a natural sun block.
Oooh, but that's not all (sounds like an infomercial, doesn't it?) Carrots have Vitamin A which helps control the production of new cells. And that outer layer of skin is where the dead cells and the sebum combine and clog pores. Controlling the overproduction of new cells, means fewer clogged pores and clearer skin.
And one last thing, they're easy to carry so you don't have to go to heroic efforts to ingest some carrots. If you're serious about great food for skin health - carrots are it.
You've heard about green tea, haven't you? Marketers will tell you it cures about everything. Oddly that's true AND false.
Green Tea is full of catechins, a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are great for the body because they help prevent so many kinds of cellular damage. Since the body is SOOOOO good at healing itself when it has the proper nutrients, a good source of antioxidants in the body can cure about anything. But really, it's just your body doing its job.
What makes Green Tea a great food for skin beauty is its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. A 2007 study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that drinking two to six cups a day not only helps prevent skin cancer but may reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralizing the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin. And a study published recently in the Archives of Dermatology supports that.
Now this is going to sound crazy but some scientists believe the EGCG in Green Tea (a polyphenol) actually reactivates dying skin cells. I'm actively looking for the proof of this and will edit this page when I find it. Interesting nonetheless.
Green tea is also high in vitamins C, D and K as well as riboflavin, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Finally, a super food for skin health that has resveratrol in it! Yay Blueberries!
We've got tons of information about blueberries to steep you in their vast benefits. For example:
But none of those have been "skin" specific. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that blueberries were one of four fruits that weighed in with the highest total antioxidant capacity of any food. Since skin cells are bombarded by the sun's rays all the time, antioxidants are truly the path to youthful looking skin.
The main benefits of blueberries then is the prevention of premature aging. If you know anything about product marketing, you'd know that you can't sell "prevention". Everyone just wants the cure.
Unfortunately blueberries are not the cure. They will protect skin cells. They will help stop the disintegration of the cells and will help rejuvenate skin as the dead cells are replaced by "blueberry-protected" new cells.
Of all the foods you can eat, blueberries continue to be one of the super foods on every list.
Go nuts for nuts
Walnuts are one of skin's little secrets. Not only does it contain the omega-3 fatty acids we talked about in Salmon above, but is also a source of copper. Copper is one of the minerals that boosts collagen production making your skin soft and supple.
Almonds, which happen to be seeds, are a source of Vitamin E that the body can assimilate. Vitamin E is a natural sun blocker. In fact some sunblocks say "fortified with Vitamin E" right on the label.
Both walnuts and almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, as well. Like the salmon's Omega-3 fatty acids, these "good" fats keep cell membranes strong and intact - a necessity for youthful looking skin.
Remember the number 1 food for skin health was water. Perhaps salmon should be #2 right behind water because the omega fatty acids help strengthen the cell walls, which keeps the water in. The higher the moisture content of skin cells, the healthier the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are really in charge of the overall health of the cells. These strong membranes act as great filters allowing the good stuff in and helping the bad stuff out. Great membranes really translate into cleaner, healthier skin.
And omega friendly skin recovers much faster from the damaging effects of the sun than skin depleted of omega fatty acids. Salmon. It's what's for dinner.
Why would we have flax, salmon and walnuts on the list? They're all sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, right? At first I was trying to cut them out of the list because of that. But I couldn't justify it.
It's one thing if you plan to eat all 10 of these foods everyday. Then perhaps, we wouldn't need 3 that contained the same nutrient. But the fact is we're not going to eat 10 each day which means each item on this list needs to stand on its own.
All 10 of these super food for skin health products are all around fantastic for skin health. And flax is no different. Besides the Omega-3 fats, it is a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) a very important need of the sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous gland is the one the lubricates the surface of the skin making it both waterproof and sun-proof. Too little ALA and you can come down with a red, itchy dermatitis called eczema.
So add a little flax to that smoothie and press on!
Another source of resveratrol. Can't deny the power of this fantastic antioxidant when it consistently shows up on the super foods lists in all subjects.
Where else are you going to get powerful Flavonols than dark chocolate? Dermatologists are touting the benefits of flavanols in ingestible cocoa and in topical creams. But they're not advocating just any chocolate, make sure it's at least 70% dark cacao or you're just getting a bunch of sugar.
Since dark chocolate is a super star in the resveratrol world and a super food, we've written about it extensively. For more information on dark chocolate check out these articles:
Holy Moly! Spinach is a skin busting powerhouse. How do we pack all the benefits into a short paragraph? Let's start with cancer, why not go straight to the top?
In the International Journal of Cancer, they reported that people who ate the most leafy greens had half as many skin tumors as those who at the least in an 11 year study.
And Spinach tops the list of folate producing vegetables. It is believe that folate repairs and maintains DNA (the building blocks of life). Maintaining DNA reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth. And if there is any reason we're eating great food for skin health, it's to avoid cancer.
Not only that but the water in spinach greens is what we talked about in number 1: moisture. Not only that, but it also is full of lutein, potassium, and fiber. Spinach (or leafy greens) are on every super foods list that I've come across. Why would a staple like that get excluded from the food for skin list?
I bet you didn't expect beans to be on the list of good food for skin health. Well, we're actually talking about legumes to be more precise. This is the class of plants that includes black beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. (And as you know, peanuts are a source of resveratrol)
Legumes are on the list because they do something indirectly to help the skin. First of all they are packed with protein, fiber, nutrients and biotin. All of those are necessary for skin growth and health.
But they do something else. They are a natural appetite suppressant and a great alternative to white flours when it comes to eating carbs. Lower calorie intake plus substitution for white flour makes them very important to our western diets.
All of those things lead to cancer and sickness. So when you're looking for foods that improve skin health, don't overlook adding beans to your menu. You'll thank us for it.