Eat Your Way to a Better-Looking You
-Jacinta O’Halloran, Divine Caroline
As a kid, I ate my dinner so that I could have dessert. My mother filled my head with other reasons to eat – like that carrots would keep my eyes strong, dairy would keep my bones strong, and spinach would keep my muscles strong-but I was oblivious to such added benefits. As an adult, I’m still obsessed with dessert, but now I’m equally obsessed with the added benefits of certain foods.
The saying, “You are what you eat” could not be more true when it comes to our skin. Our skin thrives when we eat a natural, wholesome diet rich with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it suffers under a poor diet – no matter how many overpriced beauty potions we’re lathering on.
I need all the help I can get to look my best these days and if I can get that help while stuffing my face, you can be sure I’m adding the following beauty-full foods to my weekly shopping cart.
Fish for Compliments
Oily fish like fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel, and salmon contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) that actually reduce skin inflammation and keep our skin moisturized. These EFAs also promote elasticity, keeping those wrinkles at bay. Added benefits: research shows that the Omega-3s found in fish slow cognitive decline, remove plaque from our arteries, and improve brain function. In short, tuna is a pretty smart choice for dinner.
Brimming with vitamins A and E, nuts protect our skin against pollutants and sun damage. Nuts are also rich in good fats that keep our skin nourished and smooth. Power snack on sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts and before long, everyone will be going nuts over how great you look!
Popeye knocked back spinach leaves back like I knock back Guinness, and while I’m getting my iron requirements, he’s getting plenty of antioxidant vitamins B, C, and E. Vitamins C and E are a powerful anti-aging combination while vitamin B boosts energy in our activity levels, promoting that healthy glow. I’m adding spinach, watercress, and cabbage to my cart.
Don’t Forget Popeye’s Lady Friend
You can’t go wrong with olive oil. It’s good for your skin, hair, nails, and overall diet. It’s packed with the good fats, antioxidants, and vitamins A and E that help give us soft, supple, younger-looking skin. I’m adding extra virgin olive oil to my cart because, unlike other olive oils, extra virgin hasn’t been chemically processed. Popeye would be so proud.
The innocent-looking scaly avocado is loaded with good stuff to make us look like hot stuff. Got dry skin? Reach past that Chanel cream and toward this green, fleshy fruit; it’s packed with vitamin E and monounsaturated fats (sing it with me, “Not all fats are bad for me!”) that combat dryness to nourish our skin and hair. Going forward, I’m adding avocado to all my salads and sandwiches.
Unscramble your thoughts about eggs and cholesterol because eggs are actually good for us. The sunny side up is that eggs are a high-quality protein and they contain antioxidants that are easily absorbed into the body. When it comes to egging our beauty on, whole eggs are best because they contain vitamin E, vitamins B12 and other vitamin Bs, selenium, and protein, which are all good for your skin and hair. Added benefit: eggs are packed with the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are crucial to keeping healthy eyes and sharp vision.
The Whole Truth
Add whole grains-the brown whole meal versions of your favorite foods like pasta, cereal, and bread – to your diet and you’ll aid your digestion and your complexion. Whole grains are packed with iron, vitamin B, and most important of all, fiber, which keeps us regular. Being regular is nothing to snicker at apparently (though I can’t help myself!) as it flushes out toxins to leave you with radiant skin. I’m down with brown.
I love berries, so it’s no hardship for me to add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, cranberries, your berries, my berries, to everything I eat. Berries are jam-packed (sorry) with antioxidant vitamins C and E, which help produce collagen to keep our skin smooth and plump. Added benefit: cranberries keep our urinary tract clean and happy, which is unscientifically proven to turn your frown upside down.
You Say Tomato, I Say Yes Please
Tomatoes look fresh, healthy, and ripe and the good news is that eating them will keep us fresh, healthy and ripe, too. Tomatoes are a reliable source of vitamins and minerals; they’re high in vitamin C and a great source of vitamin A, as well as being a solid go-to for the strong antioxidant lycopene. There is growing scientific evidence that lycopene neutralizes harmful free radicals that can damage cells and trigger cancer. Tomatoes are not bad for you, so eat up. In fact, I tell bad jokes to encourage people to throw tomatoes at me; I’ll be having the last beautiful laugh!
Cider House Rules
A friend, who is not so much a friend as an acquaintance, recently shared that I was looking a little “dull” and should consider adding apple cider vinegar to my daily diet. I won’t tell you what I said back to her (in my head), but I will tell you that I’m a convert. Apple cider vinegar is concentrated with enzymes that help peel off dead skin cells. It breaks down fat, helps food digest properly, and just makes you feel and look bright (or less dull in my case).
Pass the Potatoes, Please!
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A, which is known for being an anti-wrinkling agent. Treat yourself to second helpings for smoother skin.
A University of Nottingham professor found that drinking cocoa drinks rich in flavanols improves blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours. I hear you, “Sure that makes my brain pretty, but what about my face?” Well, Professor Ian MacDonald’s study suggested that cocoa flavanols in chocolate may enhance brain function to help fight sleep deprivation, fatigue, and the effects of aging. Yes! Adding cocoa and slabs of dark chocolate to my cart…
Water Your Skin
I like my water boiled with a tea bag plopped into it along with a few drops of milk and preferably a few chocolate cookies. This is all great for my mood, but not so great for my skin; caffeine is dehydrating and sugar causes zits. There’s no getting around it-our skin needs water to survive, and lots of it to thrive. Strap a water cooler to your back and give your skin long drinks frequently – more than the prescribed eight glasses a day if you can manage it, so you can moisturize from the inside out. If you must drink tea (like I must), make it green; green tea contains healthy acids and protein, which help to improve our complexions.
Forget wham-bam-pass-the-dessert-ma’am; my food choices need to deliver more than just a quick sugar rush. Now, I eat to keep my heart fit and to make my jeans fit. I eat to increase my energy and to decrease my risks of a heart attack, stroke, and cancer. I eat to feel better, and hey, I eat to look better, too. Beauty really does come from within!