Our skin reflects what's going on inside our bodies. Putting pure, clean stuff inside — by eating heaps of organic fruits and veggies and guzzling plenty of water — shows up on the outside just as sunshine follows rain.
Since the skin is an exit point for toxins in our bodies, the less junk there is to evacuate, the more our skin can glow with supple splendor. Even the most sophisticated and pure skin products can improve the appearance of only the outer layer of the skin. To reach deeper, to the living cells, we need to nourish from within.
Here are seven beautifying foods to enjoy for a luminous complexion:
1. Green tea
The antioxidants in green tea combat the free radicals from pollution, stress, and junk food that take a toll on health and viciously age the skin. The tea is also especially high in catechin, an antioxidant that is believed to inhibit cancer and tumor growth. Green tea can keep the metabolism burning at a healthy clip to aid weight loss, and it may even improve cognitive function for clearer thinking. It's a winner all around.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and other berries are abundant in antioxidants and phytochemicals that support and nurture beautiful skin and a great body. Berries are loaded with vitamin C, which is yet another antioxidant that may reduce or repair wrinkles and regulates collagen, which is essential for perky, supple skin. To get the maximum value from berries and avoid a chemical cocktail, be sure to seek out organic or naturally grown berries, as their conventional counterparts are at the top of the list of foods that are consistently contaminated with harmful pesticide residues.
Both the juice and the whole fruit have long been hailed as a beautifying food. Pomegranates are filled with precious goods for great skin, like flavonoid antioxidants and tons of vitamin C. They're also rich in potent compounds called anthocyanins (which are responsible for the fruit's ravishing crimson color) that effectively inhibit sun damage. The antitumor and anticancer properties don't hurt either.
4. Good oils
Extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed sesame oil, flax oil, and others, as well as raw nuts and seeds, olives, and avocados contain high-quality oils that are vital for health down to the cellular level and prerequisites for lustrous skin. Uncooked oils have the most to offer because many beneficial nutrients are damaged or destroyed by heat — the fresher the better, and the least refined is best of all.
Store oils away from light and heat, which damage them and diminish their skin-beautifying properties. Darker glass bottles protect oil better than clear glass.
5. Green veggies
Cruciferous vegetables (collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale) and leafy greens (lettuces, spinach, and Swiss chard) give you more nutrients in fewer calories than any other food. Green is good. The crucifer family is loaded with skin-beautifying compounds like sulfur-containing phytonutrients, which boost the body's natural detoxification enzymes to combat potentially carcinogenic invaders.
6. Red wine
This is a feel-good delivery system for obtaining beautiful skin and a healthy heart. Loaded with beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, red wine is a fabulous source of resveratrol, which is concentrated in the skin of grapes and widely valued for its anticancer properties. Red wine also shows great promise in protecting skin from sun damage. Cheers to that!
7. Dark chocolate
Oh, yes! Prized for millennia as the "food of the gods," chocolate has now been blessed by science for its unique and evocative properties. Chocolate contains a wealth of antioxidants. It contains catechins like those found in green tea, and it's the greatest food source of procyanidins — compounds that counter skin damage and encourage cancer-free, heart-happy health. New research is ablaze about chocolate's ability to improve circulation, so it's a delicious way to keep your skin looking young and aglow.
Adapted from an excerpt from my book Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home, available where books are sold.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images