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Best Health Foods for Radiant Skin
By Michelle Gelok, RD • August 16th, 2010
If you rely on a concoction of expensive creams, lotions and serums to keep your skin looking radiant, you may also want to take a look at what’s on your dinner plate. Not surprisingly, research continues to show that the foods you eat can play a vital role in keeping skin looking its best.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, may be small in size, but pack a powerful punch when it comes to keeping skin looking healthy. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that after just twelve weeks of receiving a daily dose of flax seed oil, women not only experienced better skin hydration, they also had significantly less red, rough and scaly skin. Often touted for their link to heart health, flaxseeds are loaded with alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that keeps skin hydrated and healthy looking.
Green tea continues to make its mark as a superfood thanks to study findings suggesting it may contain potent skin healing properties. This of course is in addition to the long list of other health benefits that green tea has to offer, including boosting heart health by protecting against heart attack, and protecting against arthritis. As for healthy looking skin, green tea can’t be beat. It’s easy to prepare, inexpensive and loaded with powerful disease fighting antioxidants called polyphenols. Studies have shown that green tea has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and may even play a role in the prevention of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Enjoy it hot, or make a pitcher of green tea iced tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon for an ultimate hot weather pleaser.
This tropical fruit gets two thumbs up when it comes to younger looking skin thanks to its exceptional vitamin C content. In 2007 researchers studying the association between nutrient intakes and skin aging appearance found that women between the ages of 40 and 74 years who consumed the most vitamin C had the least wrinkles. The findings aren’t entirely surprising seeing as vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in the synthesis of collagen, a protein responsible for skin elasticity, often used in cosmetic surgery. Researchers found that women with the highest vitamin C intake also experienced less visible dryness of the skin. Aside from papaya, other excellent sources of vitamin C include kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, red bell peppers and oranges.
Green leafy vegetables
In case you need another reason to eat your greens, research findings from Australia suggest that a high intake of fruits and vegetables, specifically green leafy vegetables, may protect against skin cancer. In the study, researchers followed over 1300 people for eleven years and found that the people who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were half as likely to develop skin cancer, compared to those who skipped out on their daily servings. Researchers found that the protective effect was due in part to a high intake of green leafy vegetables. The benefits of green leafy vegetables don’t stop there – they are packed with vitamins A, C and K, contain a hefty dose of folate and are known to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as promote brain health. Green leafy vegetables aren’t just lettuce and spinach, this family of vegetables also includes kale, Swiss chard, rapini, collard green and beet greens.
Almonds are hard to beat when it comes to healthy looking skin. That’s because they are rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against damage caused by free radicals. Some studies have shown that vitamin E may actually help prevent damage to skin cells caused by ultraviolet rays. Almonds also have the added benefit of being a great source of essential fatty acids, which can help keep skin hydrated and supple and a good source of high quality protein. Other sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, wheat germ, olives and spinach.
No surprise here, drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest, least expensive and most effective ways to keep skin looking its best. From flushing toxins out of the body, to transporting important nutrients – water wears many different hats when it comes to keeping the body in top form, and skin health is no exception. Drinking water keeps skin cells hydrated and plump and can also prevent dry, flaky skin.
Prevention is key
The bottom line is that while some foods may reduce wrinkles, protect against sun damage and keep your skin looking its best, nothing can replace proper skin care, including sun protection and staying out of the sun when it’s at its strongest.