Ten Fab Foods for your Face – Part 1

What we put IN our face is just as important- if not more- than what we put ON our face! There are certain nutrients that are critical for great skin and indeed some of these are utilised in skin care products. e.g vitamin C (that little wonder again!). Once again, a balanced lifestyle that includes a healthy nutrition plan consisting of adequate fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, protein sources and water – as well as minimising/cutting out refined sugars, alcohol, excess caffeine and adequate relaxation – will ensure that we gain the nutrients needed for the skin- and of course our general health……. “Blah, blah, blah” I hear you say?! – I make no apologies for the repetition!

At the request of a few,  here is a  list of ten great foods which can help towards great looking skin. The focus is on main nutrient/s  and the relevance to the skin. Part Uno!

1.      Avocado

  • Rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin  C, Lutein

Vitamin  E is one of the main antioxidants (neutralises harmful free radicals, reduce inflammation and protect cell membranes)  hence can slow down ageing of skin cells. Known to reduce the appearance of scars. Needed for cell maintenance.

Oleic acid, one of the (monounsaturated)  fatty acids in avocado  is also important for skin health and the skin’s defence system.

Vitamin B6 helps to balance out hormones and so help to reduce acne

Vitamin C helps in collagen production hence skin firmness and reduce wrinkles

Lutein is an antioxidant that protects against UVB sunlight

Tips- salads, dips- guacamole etc , smoothies e.g mix with banana

2.      Green tea

  • Rich in antioxidants

The main anti-inflammatory ones are called catechins-  particularly  EGCG.  They  help to protect against sun damage, ageing signs  and reduce redness .

A study of 2200 adults showed that people who drank  one or more cups of green tea daily were 20-30% less likely to develop skin cancer ( basal and squamous cell carcinoma)  than those who didn’t drink it.

Another 2007 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that drinking 2-6 cups daily reduced skin cancer as well reversing the effects of sun damage.

Also proven  to enhance metabolism and hence control weight and body fat.

Tips- a healthier swap for other beverages-simple! Aim for at least one cup daily.

3.      Sweet potatoes

  • Rich in beta-carotene  (precursor to Vitamin A ), Vitamin C

Beta-carotene is a  really important anti oxidant. Again, helps to protect against sun damage, redness and sunburn. Vitamin C is needed for collagen production- hence helps to smooth out wrinkles and creases.

Tips- roasted with other veggies, curries

4.      Apples

  • Malic acid

It’s a type of alpha hydroxyl acid- proven to reduce skin discolouration, clear blemishes- hence give a clearer complexion.

Tips- an apple a day…easy! A great healthy snack in between meals  or part of a fruit salad.

 5.      Almonds

  • Vitamin E. Magnesium, monounsaturated fatty acids.

Anti oxidant properties- protection again sun damage.

Studies have shown that volunteers who consumed  of 14mg of vitamin E (approx. 20 almonds) and were exposed to UV light got less sunburn than those who had nothing.

6.      Tomatoes

  • Rich in Lycopene, silicone, Vitamins A and C

Lycopene is a phytochemical that gives tomatoes their red colour

A powerful antioxidant that helps the skin get rid of free radicals caused by the UV rays.  Keeps skin looking younger and  healthier.

Best when tomatoes have actually been cooked e.g. pasta sauce

Silicone is an important mineral needed for skin, hair and nails. It reduces wrinkles and helps towards glowing skin

7.      Kiwi fruit

  • Vitamin  C, Potassium

Once again, Vitamin C  helps skin collagen production so useful both as topical and as a food.  Helps strengthen capillaries and keeps skin firm.

Studies have shown that people on diets high in vitamin C had less wrinkles.

Potassium is important in maintaining our blood pH and adequate levels are required for elimination of waste products from the body.

8.      Sunflower seeds

  • Vitamin E, essential fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin B1

Zinc promotes elasticity in the skin, reduces acne, wrinkles and stretch marks

Antioxidant properties of vitamin E keep skin protected from the sun and the essential fatty acids are anti inflammatory as well as keeping skin soft and supple by helping to hold in moisture.

Tips- as part of a healthy snack with other nutrient dense nuts and seeds- pumpkin, flax.

9.      Brazil Nuts

  • Rich source of selenium

Daily serving of about 4 nuts gives the total recommended daily amount of selenium

Selenium is another important mineral for the skin, promoting skin elasticity, has antioxidant properties so reducing ageing and reduces acne.

Tips- as part of healthy nut/seed snack.  Grind with almonds and walnuts as a topping for cereal/porridge.

10.  Dark chocolate

  • Rich in Flavonols, Zinc

May I officially certify this as a medicine ?!

Cocoa in its purest form has high levels of flavonols- powerful antioxidants

Cocoa is hydrating so helps with skin suppleness and firmness

Caution- The dairy and sugar content of milk chocolate can make the skin worse, including acne.

Tips- Dark chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa.  2 small squares will do!

Last but not least, a reminder about WATER ! A crucial  key to beautiful skin. The first signs of dehydration would show in the skin as the body needs to use whatever water it has  for other  vital functions. Individual needs vary but aim for 2-3 L and this quota can include non-alcoholic beverages as well as the water content of foods – although most should be water.  See the previous entry  in the  blog for more notes on the benefits of water