8 superfoods for glowing skin

Forget a new moisturiser – beautiful skin starts on your plate! Here’s what to keep in your fridge for clear and glowing skin…

Keep it orange


Vegetables such as carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes contain particularly high levels of beta-Carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely orange colour. “Beta-Carotene converts to vitamin A in our body, which is one of the most important nutrients for skin integrity, meaning skin that is firm, resists damage and can heal quickly,” explains nutritionist Shona Wilkinson. “Beta-Carotene itself may also help to prevent free radical damage to our cells that can result in ageing, as it works as an antioxidant. Orange vegetables are delicious as a base for stews and soups in the winter, or roasted with other vegetables such as peppers, red onions and beetroot.”

Beautiful berries


Berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants are excellent sources of vitamin C. “This vitamin is vital for the formation of collagen, which gives our skin structure and elasticity,” says nutritionist Cassandra Barns. “Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage, and berries contain many other plant nutrients that may work as antioxidants in the body, such as quercetin, catechins, and resveratrol. Another advantage of berries over most other fruits is they are lower in sugar (a diet high in sugary foods can speed up skin ageing). Berries are great added to plain yoghurt with some chopped nuts as an ideal snack or breakfast. You can also try taking a supplement packed with antioxidants and resveratrol, such as Nature’s Plus AgeLoss Skin Support (revital.co.uk, £34.25).”

Oily fish for hydration


Oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout and so on) contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. “It has been found that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an essential role in skin structure and appearance: they are incorporated into cell membranes in the epidermis (the outermost layer of cells in the skin) and help to maintain the skin’s barrier function and prevent moisture loss,” says Cassandra. “They are also thought to have a role in the dermis (the lower layer of skin) by controlling inflammation and minimising collagen damage from UV rays. Not a fish fan? Try taking a supplement such as Quest Vitamins’ Omega-3 (revital.co.uk, £8.78).”

A* skin with avocado


Avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which is thought to play several roles in skin health. Like vitamin C, it works as an antioxidant so may protect the skin cells against damage from free radicals. It is also thought to help protect the skin from UV rays and have anti-inflammatory activity in the skin (inflammation is involved in skin rashes, blemishes and acne). “Although avocado is relatively high in fat, the majority of this is healthy monounsaturated fat, like that found in olive oil, and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women (marilyglenville.com). “As we have already seen, omega-6 fats are helpful for preventing moisture loss from the skin, and monounsaturated fats may also have this benefit. On top of this, avocados contain good levels of carotenoids; those same antioxidants found in orange vegetables.”

Pumpkin seeds for problem skin


These nutritional gems are excellent sources of zinc; one of the most important minerals for maintaining healthy, happy skin. “It is thought that as much as 20 per cent of the body’s zinc is stored in the skin, and it has a major role in growth and healing,” says Shona. “Deficiency in this mineral is linked with acne, dry skin, dermatitis and poor wound healing. Pumpkin seeds – like avocados, nuts and other seeds – also contain the omega-6 fat linoleic acid. Other seeds and nuts are also good sources of zinc, as well as biotin; a vitamin known to contribute to healthy skin and hair.”

Green juice boost

The perfect juice cleanse

Juices made with lots of fresh green vegetables are concentrated sources of nutrients, including many that can be beneficial to our skin. “They contain minerals like calcium, magnesium and alkaloids, which help to alkalise the body, preventing it from becoming too acidic,” explains Cassandra. “Our body generally keeps a fairly stable acid-alkaline balance, but a slight over-acidity may be linked to skin eruptions or problems like eczema. Green juices are also rich in vitamin C, beta-Carotene and other antioxidants including chlorophyll, the substance that produces the green pigment in plants. If you don’t own a juicer just eat lots of green vegetables or add Nature’s Plus Green Lightning (revital.co.uk, £27.60) to a smoothie. This greens-based nutritional powder includes chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass and Pacific kelp to purify your skin.”

Oaty goodness

Healthy food. Whole grain Oats and cereal spikelets

Oats are a particularly rich source of biotin – a vitamin well known for its role in the health of our skin and hair. “Oats are high in gentle fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and bowel function,” says Shona. “Healthy digestion is vital for our skin for two main reasons. Firstly, we need to digest foods properly for all those skin-loving nutrients to get into our body, and secondly, if we are not eliminating waste properly then excess toxins can circulate in the blood and may come out through the skin, in the sweat and sebum. The result may be rashes and other skin problems.”

Cabbage patch doll


Cruciferous vegetables are ‘cabbage family’ vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, red and green cabbage, chard, watercress and Brussels sprouts. “They contain lots of sulphur compounds, which can support detoxification in the liver. Adequate liver detoxification is just as important as a healthy bowel for getting rid of toxins,” explains Cassandra. “They may also be supportive for hormone balancing, especially in women, because they contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol that has been found to balance oestrogen levels. Therefore, if you are a woman who is prone to skin breakouts around your period, you may find it helpful to eat one to two portions of these vegetables a day – but make sure you vary your choice so you don’t get bored. If you are a man, don’t think they won’t help you: cruciferous vegetables are highly nutritious and good for us all!”

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