We do not just want to have good complexion for the sake of looking young. Skin is also a reflection of our health – lack of sleep, chronic stress and unhealthy diet and lifestyle lead to aging skin. On the other hand, sufficient sleep, exercise, sun protection and a healthy diet leads to a healthier you and glowing skin.
Foods that help our skin generally work via these means
(i) anti-inflammation and removal of free radicals,
(ii) aid skin repair,
(iii) reduce skin damage and
(iv) reduce likelihood of skin issues like acne.
It is good to know too that many of these foods that help our skin are also helpful in weight loss – so you will not be sacrificing your weight loss target for better skin! Let’s explore these top 10 power foods for good skin!
1. Wild Salmon
Wild salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which is anti-inflammatory and helps to retain moisture on the skin. Omega-3 rich foods have been associated with protection against sun damage, skin cancer and aids blood circulation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 rich foods are also associated with improving skin disorders like acne, eczema and psoriasis. Other seafood rich in omega-3 are sardines and mackerel. Salmon is also rich in vitamin D, which helps with bone, brain and heart health. Selenium, a mineral in salmon, also has sun protection property.
Flaxseeds is a small, versatile super food that is rich in omega-3. It can either be taken in the form of flaxeed oil or adding ground flaxseeds to salads, smoothies or oats. Taking just half a teaspoon of flaxseeds daily over six weeks had been studied to reduce skin irritation, skin redness and improve skin hydration. Other seeds helpful for skin are chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. These seeds contain minerals like selenium and magnesium (reduce stress level) and Vitamin E.
Another skin food which is also a popular weight loss food is almonds. Its Vitamin E is a well-known antioxidant that helps to protect the skin against free radicals from sun damage. Vitamin E may also help with moisture retention. Almonds is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with pistachios and walnuts.
4. Anti-oxidant rich vegetables
Choosing vegetables that are rich in antioxidants can help reduce free radicals, which come not just from sun exposure but also from environmental pollutants. Purple-colored vegetables (potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower) pack more anthocyanins which are anti-inflammatory and improve blood flow. Beta-carotene rich vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and carrots also help with sun damage protection, topping up with vitamins A, C and E which also help to fight inflammation and retain moisture. Vitamin A has another benefit of reducing over-production of dead cells and sebum (oil), thus preventing the clogging of pores and acne.
5. Spinach and Kale
Spinach and Kale, being super foods, deserves separate mention. For one, Kale is rich in vitamins (A, B6, C and K), minerals (manganese) and omega-3. It is an anti-inflammatory food and can be cooked in creative ways like kale chips. Similarly, spinach is high in vitamins (B, C and E), minerals (potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium) and omega-3. The folate in green leafy vegetables has been linked to cell repair and even reduction of cancerous cells.
6. Watermelons and tomatoes
Watermelons contain carotenoids that help to protect against sunburn. Both watermelons and tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical that fights against free radicals. Cooked tomatoes have higher lycopene levels than raw ones.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate (at least 60% dark chocolate) is rich in antioxidant and a yummy treat for skin and for curbing the need to binge. The cocoa flavonols are rich in flavonoids that are anti-oxidative and studied to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and reduce blood clotting. It has been studied that dark chocolate reduce skin redness and improve skin smoothness. The more processed a chocolate is, the higher loss of flavanols. Also, avoid white and milk chocolates that are high in sugar and low on cocoa!
8. Vitamin-C rich fruits
Vitamin C helps with production of collagen, which reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles and thus help the skin look smoother. Vitamin C also has anti-oxidant property to reduce free radicals. Vitamin-C rich fruits include kiwis, strawberries, grapefruits and oranges. Vegetables mentioned earlier like sweet potatoes and tomatoes also have vitamin C.
Given how important antioxidants are to skin health, berries deserve a place in your fruit servings as they contain the highest number of antioxidants (antocyanins and quercetin). Berries such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries are available fresh in supermarkets and it is better to buy organic ones for better health benefits. Berries are also packed with vitamin C.
10. Green Tea
Green tea contains a phytochemical catechin that is linked to many benefits, including (i) boosting metabolism, (ii) anti-oxidant and (iii) anti-inflammatory. What is better is that catechin is also linked to fat oxidation, thus a weight-loss food. Green tea also has amino acid L-theanine that lower stress level and helps relaxation.
It is important to remember that exercise, sleep and stress-reduction also play a part in glowing skin. Also don’t forget to exclude inflammatory foods from your diet like sugar and trans fatty acids that are linked to many chronic diseases. The next time you head for your grocery shopping, view foods with this new skin power food insight and you will be on your way to glowing skin!