Beauty from the inside out is what we’re going for with a healthy lifestyle.
Rather than looking to your vanity table for a beauty fix, take a look in your kitchen — you might be surprised how much what you eat can affect your skin and hair!
1. Dark chocolate
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not cause acne. In fact, research has shown that dark chocolate even protects skin from sun damage. Chocolate, or rather raw cacao, contains anti-aging antioxidants called flavonoids, which fight free radicals to protect your skin from UV damage and prevent the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin discolorations.
Chocolate also makes you feel happy — when you eat it, the brain releases endorphins, your body's natural feel-good chemical, and phenylethylamine, which elicits the head-over-heels feeling of falling in love. When you feel good, you look good.
Walnuts contain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that help your skin stay smooth and plump. Walnuts also protect your hair from sun damage and keep it lustrous and shiny. Get your daily dose of by eating a handful raw or throwing some chopped walnuts in your salad, pasta or dessert.
Spinach contains a triple dose of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These all work together to protect your skin from the sun's aging UV rays (but you should still wear sunscreen, of course). Enjoy spinach in salads, green smoothies, or lightly sautéed with coconut oil, garlic and a dash of sea salt.
These legumes are a good source of protein and iron, which support full-bodied hair. Enjoy them as a side dish, in a hearty soup, or make your own lentil-veggie burgers.
5. Chia seeds
These tiny seeds are packed with protein, fiber, and loads of omega-3s — all great for your skin and hair. Since chia seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, they also keep you feeling fuller longer. Enjoy them as a pudding, in smoothies, or as an egg substitute in vegan baking.
Almonds are rich in flavonoids and vitamin E, which is vital to skin health. They can help ward off damaging free radicals and even oxidative damage caused by smoking. Almonds also make a great source of satisfying fiber and protein, and their manganese and selenium content helps keep your hair shiny. Snack on a handful of almonds, or enjoy them in almond butter spread on apple slices.
Flaxseeds provide a huge boost of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beyond good for you. Preliminary studies have shown that both omega-6 and omega- 3 fatty acids help prevent or treat skin conditions like acne and eczema. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s can also maintain a healthy rate of skin cell renewal. To ensure your body absorbs all these beauty-boosting benefits, eat flaxseeds in ground or "meal" form.
Avocados are the ultimate "get gorgeous" food. Ever seen shampoos or facial masks using avocados? There's a reason for that.
Key for hair, skin, and nails, the monounsaturated fatty acids packed into these creamy treats not only help lower bad cholesterol levels, but also reduce the appearance of aging in skin. Avocados also contain antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate, and one avocado is packed with more potassium than a medium banana — nearly 700 milligrams! Eat avocado in guacamole, sliced on top of a salad or sandwich, or even with a spoon — we won't judge.
Berries are loaded with anti-inflammatory agents and vitamins that help protect you from premature aging. The antioxidants in berries help minimize the damage of free radicals, which can accelerate wrinkle formation and cause disease. Additionally, berries are packed with vitamin C, which keeps skin firm and strong. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels. Eat a handful of your favorite berry with breakfast, or pureed into a smoothie.
Sea vegetables like nori or wakame are loaded with iron and phytonutrients. All of these nutrients can help you attain gorgeous, supple skin. Iron, manganese, iodine, copper, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium — all found in sea vegetables — are essential for gorgeous hair, skin, and nails. Enjoy these in mixed green salads, toss some wakame into your miso soup, or wrap up some veggies in nori sheets to make nori rolls.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont