By Naomi Mead
For clear and youthful skin, what we put into our bodies is just as important as what we apply in creams, lotions and potions. Here are 7 anti ageing foods to nourish the skin from the inside out, enhancing natural beauty and giving you a radiant glow.
1) Avocados – packed with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals from both within the body, and from external sources (such as pollution, sun exposure, cosmetics and processed foods). The beauty of this wonderful fruit is that not only can you eat it, but you can also apply it to the skin by creating a homemade facemask. Use a ripe avocado, peel, de-stone, mash, pat it evenly onto your face, and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Avocado oil is highly moisturising and can stimulate collagen and elastin production in the skin. It also contains sterolins (naturally occurring steroids), which can help to heal sun damage.
For vitamin E also choose: spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, shellfish, and olive oil
2) Coconut- contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are normal components of the skin, and can hydrate the skin by replenishing its natural oils. These MCFAs also have anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Coconut oil is great to cook with, as it retains its fantastic properties even when heated to high temperatures. Alternatively, have a teaspoon each day, either straight off the spoon, or stirred into yoghurt (it also doubles up as a wonderful lip balm and moisturiser!) And it’s not just the oil- coconut water is bursting with electrolytes and is deeply hydrating, making it fantastic for skin health.
If you have a blender, try this skin-boosting smoothie: 1-cup coconut water, ½ small ripe avocado, ½ cup mango and a good squeeze of lime juice. Add all to the blender, and blend until smooth.
3) Chia seeds- these little nutritional powerhouses are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to strengthen the skin cell membranes, facilitating the passage of water and nutrients in, but keeping toxins out. Maintaining the health of this barrier is integral for retaining moisture in the skin cells, resulting in plumper, younger looking skin. Chia seeds are also a rich source of soluble fibre, which plays an important role in healthy digestive function. Supporting digestion and the subsequent elimination of waste and toxins from the body is key for a clear and glowing complexion. Chia seeds can be added to your porridge or muesli, or why not try making a batch of this homemade granola - http://www.food-first.co.uk/super-powered-breakfast/
For omega-3 fatty acids also choose: salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts and flaxseed
4) Blueberries – bursting with a broad range of antioxidants that protect the skin from damage, helping it to look younger for longer. Blueberries also contain compounds that support circulation within the skin by strengthening the capillaries and blood vessels and keeping them flexible. Not only this but they are an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and vitamin E. Add a handful of blueberries to your breakfast, or combine with feta, spinach and walnuts to make a delicious salad.
For skin-protective antioxidants also choose: brightly coloured fruit and veggies such as berries, peppers, green leafy vegetables, beetroot and squash. The more colour the better as each colour represents a different antioxidant.
5) Tomatoes – these juicy fruits are over 90% water, making them deeply hydrating for the skin. They are also rich in vitamin C, which is found in high concentrations in the upper layers of the skin, and is essential for collagen synthesis, helping to keep the skin smooth, firm and plump. Tomatoes are also one of the best dietary sources of lycopene, which helps to fight skin-ageing free radicals caused by UV rays. Lycopene is best absorbed when consumed together with dietary fat, and a study in 2005 found that cooking tomatoes with olive oil significantly increased lycopene absorption in comparison to those cooked without oil. It has also been shown that lycopene is better absorbed and utilized by the body in processed tomato products, such as tomato puree and tomato paste, rather than raw tomatoes.
For lycopene also choose: watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit
6) Pumpkin seeds- packed with zinc, a mineral that helps to rejuvenate the skin by supporting both collagen production and the renewal of skin cells. Pumpkin seeds also contain selenium, an antioxidant that helps to preserve elastin, which keeps your skin smooth and supple. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to your salad to give it a wonderful crunch, or alternatively try pumpkin seed butter on toast.
For zinc also choose: beef, lamb, chicken, wholegrains, shellfish and legumes.
7) Almonds- not only rich in skin moisturizing vitamin E, almonds contain biotin, a vitamin necessary to build healthy fats in the skin. These fats keep the skin supple and moist, and form a protective skin barrier. When they are lacking, the skin can become flaky and dry. Try this cauliflower and almond soup, and get extra skin benefits from the cauliflower, which is packed with collagen-building vitamin C and liver detoxifying compounds.
For biotin also choose: peanuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables and liver.