Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EAT Your Way to Beautiful Skin

Strawberries, citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli
Produce packed with vitamin C is crucial for the production and formation of collagen, skin's support structure. And it's that strong support layer that evens out the top layer and wards off wrinkles. Try to have two 1-cup servings of fruit (Not a fan of strawberries? Try oranges or grapefruit.) and 1 cup of red peppers and/or broccoli each day. Or try applying them directly with this at-home facial recipe.

Sunflower seed and almonds
Edible SPF? Practically. These seeds and nuts are loaded with vitamin E, an antioxidant that, with other antioxidants, works to protect skin from UV-related free radicals. Skin's top layers contain high levels of E that help guard cells' outer membrane, so cells stay healthy. Plus, strong membranes hold water in, keeping skin hydrated. Aim for 2 tablespoons of hulled seeds or 23 almonds daily. Find more healthy snack options from the No-Cook Diet.

Dark orange, leafy green and red vegetables
Squash, sweet potatoes and spinach are teeming with the antioxidant beta-carotene. Your body converts it to vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover so skin's surface is smooth. Carotenoids might also lower your skin's sensitivity to sun. Shoot for three 1-cup servings a day of these polishing picks. Try them in delicious, good-for-you recipes like Butternut Squash Pizza, Cheesy Sweet Potato Crisps, and Oatmeal Meatballs With Spinach.

Fortified cereal, lean meat, pork, poultry, oysters
These protein-rich foods are full of zinc and iron, minerals crucial to healthy skin function. Zinc supports cell production as well as natural cell sloughing, which keeps dullness at bay. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen to skin, helping give you a glow. Pile your plate with 1 serving of cereal (a cup), 1 palm-sized serving of meat or poultry or 3 oysters per day. Bored with chicken? You just need a new recipe.

Wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, walnuts
These fish and nuts, plus fortified eggs, are chockablock with omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation in the body caused by sun and stress. Inflammation produces free radicals, and free radicals contribute to aging by attacking collagen. Research still needs to provide solid proof that the anti-inflammatory abilities of omega-3s yield younger-looking skin, but one study found that older people who consumed more fish and veggies over their life had fewer wrinkles than those who ate more meat, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports. Aim for two 5-ounce servings of fish per week; on other days, 1 oz of walnuts or 2 omega-3-fortified eggs. Get creative with recipes like a Salmon BLT or a single-serving Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata.

Whole wheat and grains
Clear up your skin with these complex carbs. Australian researchers found that a low-glycemic diet (more whole grains, protein and produce versus refined carbs such as white bread) may reduce acne. One reason why: Low-glycemic foods keep insulin steady, while refined carbs and sugar spike it. The surges may boost production of androgens, hormones that, when boosted, can cause zits. After 12 weeks of a low-glycemic diet, subjects' pimple counts dropped 20 percent, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes. More research is needed to support the clear-skin connection, but no M.D. will talk you out of eating whole grains and veggies! Try to have three servings a day (one serving equals a slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked grains). See how a beauty editor cleared up her acne problem.

OK, so water isn’t a food, but you can sip your way to dewy skin! Skin cells contain mostly H20, and if you're dehydrated, skin looks and feel parched, too. But you needn't chug gallons each day: Research from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found no studies to back up the recommendation of eight glasses a day. Prevent dehydration—and dryness—by drinking when you're thirsty. Aim for 6 cups a day.

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