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Sunday, May 28, 2017

How to eat for healthier skin?

     Who doesn’t want healthy, glowing skin that isn’t dry and flaky?  And, is there a way to halt some of the signs of aging?  Well, a number of foods have nutrients and substances like antioxidants that can promote healthier skin.  A recent article in Environmental Nutrition, Eat Your Way to Better Skin, highlights some foods you may want to consider adding to your day.  WebMD also offers some guidance on, Foods for Healthy Supple Skin.  What are some of their suggestions?  
     1.  Add vitamin A to your day – not only should you eat carrots for better vision, but also for healthier skin.  Since summer is here, vitamin A also helps protect the skin from damage from sun exposure   .  Who wants skin that is dry or flaky?  Vitamin A foods help prevent this.  So add some foods rich in vitamin A.  A good way to choose foods high in vitamin A are to look for foods dark orange or dark green.  Thus, lettuce would have little vitamin A, but spinach greens would have a lot.  So if you are filling up your plate at a salad bar, skip the lettuce and fill your plate with darker greens, add some carrots and green peppers.
      Vitamin A rich foods:  sweet potatoes, green peppers, dark greens like kale, spinach, collards.  Pumpkin, apricots, cantaloupe, broccoli      

    2.  Water – yes, water.  You want to keep your body and your skin hydrated.  Although we have heard you should drink 8 glasses of water a day, all liquids count.  I am drinking a nice glass of Crystal Light Lemonade – so refreshing for summer.  Or enjoy some unsweetened ice tea with lemon slices.  The water in milk and juice also counts.  Fruits like watermelon provide some water.  If you are thirsty, you are “low in water” so drink up.     

    3. Add some omega 3's to your day.  What are omega 3’s?  The heart healthy fats we want in our diet. Some ways to add them is to add flax seed.  Add a spoonful of ground flax seed to your cereal or smoothie.  An article in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating some flax seed every day promotes skin hydration.  Other ways to add some omega 3’s to your day are chia seeds, walnuts and enjoying fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel.  Or cook with Olive Oil or Canola oil. I like to add some chopped up walnuts to my oatmeal or other cereal in the morning.  The California Walnut Board has a website,, that offers many delicious salad recipes featuring walnuts like Wilted Spinach Salad with Green Onions.  This salad is a great way to add some vitamin A (spinach) and omega 3’s (walnuts and olive oil) to your meal.      

    4. Green Tea – so many health benefits to drinking green tea.  Green Tea provides polyphenols a substance that promotes a healthy glow to your skin and may help protect your skin from sun damage.  Environmental Nutrition notes this may be due to the ability of these polyphenols to increase blood flow to your skin and thus more oxygen is delivered.  Whatever the scientific reason, drinking green tea is a healthy choice.  How much?  Try to drink 1-2 cups of green tea a day to benefit your skin.    
   5.  Chocolate, chocolate – who doesn’t like chocolate?  Most of us have heard we should avoid chocolate if we want healthier skin.  However, cocoa may actually benefit our skin.  Seems cocoa can help protect our skin from sun damage like aging and wrinkles. Look for dark chocolate and foods that have cocoa powder.  During the winter, I like to add some cocoa powder to my hot chocolate for an extra “chocolate” boost.    
   6. Antioxidants – adding antioxidants to your diet is good for your overall health and especially good for your skin as antioxidants help prevent skin damage.  How to add them?  Enjoy more fruits and vegetables – aim for 5 A Day – five fruits and vegetables a day.  We have berries in season here – fresh strawberries.  Add other berries: fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries.  And vary your colors.  Each color offers up different antioxidants.  Enjoy tomatoes, red and green peppers, apricots, sweet potatoes, tangerines.  Find some fruits and veggies you like.  Aim for two servings of veggies and fruit at each meal.  For breakfast, I like a banana and I add a small box of raisins to my cereal (along with the chopped walnuts.)  Breakfast is such an easy meal to get 2 servings of fruit.  
    7. Vitamin C – like vitamin A, vitamin C is so important for healthier skin.  It protects the collagen and elastin in our skin from sun damage. So, vitamin C can help firm our skin.  So many ways to add vitamin C to your day.  We all know citrus foods are good sources of vitamin C but so are red and green peppers, watermelon, kiwi fruit, broccoli and those dark greens like spinach. 
So, for healthier skin, try adding some of the foods above.  Make a salad this week with dark greens and add some chopped walnuts. 

  • 1 medium tart apple (e.g. Granny Smith, Jonathans, Jonagolds, Honeycrisp, Melrose, Winesap, Braeburn)
  • 3 T. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small avocado, ripe
  • ¼ cups Extra-virgin Olive
  • 2 c. sliced red onion
  • ½ tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 c. lightly toasted California walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves – dry after washing
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper and lemon wedges for garnish

  1. Cut apple into thin slices, drizzle with 2 tsp lemon juice, cover and refrigerate.
  2. Pour remaining lemon juice onto a plate.  Peel and slice avocado, put slices in lemon juice.  Turn slices to coat with lemon juice.
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, add onion and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in cumin seeds and walnuts.  Turn heat down to medium, with minimal stirring, cook another 2-3 minutes or until seeds and nuts give off a toasty aroma.  Do not burn.
  4. Add onion, seed, walnut mixture to spinach and toss.  Spinach will wilt.  Sprinkle with salt. 
  5. Mix in avocado, all the lemon juice and apple. Grind in some black pepper.  Garnish with lemon wedges. 

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