by Tara Alley
I know, I know you’re thinking this is another one of those “Eat Your Way to Beautiful” articles that tells you that you can lose weight eating chocolate cake and eating brownies. But, don’t worry! It’s not! It’s about “beauty foods.”
If you’ve never heard of them, you’re in for some delicious and beneficial treats. In fact, before you finish this article, it’s my hope that your focus will be less on tracking down the next new mascara or the latest and greatest foundation and instead, you’ll be off to your local market for some refreshing, cleansing and beautifying foods. Not only can foods actually work wonders on reducing wrinkles and giving you that “glow,” they can also boost your mood, your ability to concentrate and perform and your overall outlook on life. And, regardless of how much “stuff” we put on the outside, I’m a firm believer that true beauty always starts from within, and what you put into your body will have an effect on your mind and your appearance.
Here are my favorite foods for beauty, and we’ll be looking at them from the ways they can boost both outward appearance and your inner health. Dive in!
Blueberries have long been touted as a “super food” and with good reason. If you’re looking for a super easy way to do your body (and particularly your skin) a favor, start incorporating a serving (or two!) of blueberries into your diet each day.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants that give skin a young, fresh, soft look. In fact, a “blueberry paste” can make your skin soft as silk and might just become your newest go-to facial. Blueberries can boost your digestion with their fiber, acids and fructose, and more importantly, blueberries can improve your brain’s health. The combination of anthocyanins, vitamins A, C, E, and B, along with selenium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper helps repair damaged brain cells to keep your memory sharp and your thinking clearer.
My favorite ways to enjoy blueberries…
- Yogurt and blueberry parfait (+ a sprinkling of granola if I’m feelin’ sassy!)
- Wholegrain blueberry pancakes – seriously no better way to start the day!
- Blueberry smoooothies – so good, so easy! Blend frozen blueberries (and any other berries of your choice) + fruit juice
- By the bowl! Umm, can you beat a bowl of fresh blueberries?
When you are not digesting properly, your body is not taking in and absorbing nutrients like it should be. This can lead to sallow, pale skin, poor hair health, overall lack of energy, etc. Bottom line: beauty starts with good digestion!
The good bacteria, also known as probiotics, found in yogurt helps your digestive system stay on track. You’ll avoid bloating, and you’ll find yourself enjoying more energy and a lighter feeling than ever before when you start eating yogurt on a regular, daily basis. Your skin will look and feel better as well, since you’ll be much more effectively taking in nutrients and getting rid of waste too.
If you want an outward beauty tip, then you should definitely take advantage of yogurt’s acidity and probiotics and use it to freshen up hair and skin with make-it-yourself home facials! I see a girl’s night party with lots of yogurt in my future!
My favorite ways to enjoy yogurt…
- Yogurt and berry parfait – see above!
- Yogurt smoothies – make a berry smoothie with Greek yogurt and enjoy as a meal; the hefty dose of protein will keep you going for hours!
- Tzatziki – Greek yogurt, diced cucumbers, a dash of lemon, a pinch of salt and the teensiest bit of garlic. Ohh my!
- Dip in carrots, cucumbers, celery, you name it!
- Frozen! I buy Greek yogurt (vanilla is my favorite) and freeze it lightly. I think it’s better than the typical “frozen yogurt” and not loaded down in sugar!
- As a fruit dip – a use plain yogurt, add a touch of vanilla, a touch of Stevia (all natural sweetener) and dip fruits like apples, strawberries and oranges into it for a refreshing and filling snack
- By the bowl! There’s nothin’ better than a bowl of yogurt, drizzled with pure honey and sprinkled with candied pecans…
Not a day goes by without a bowl of oatmeal or some form of oats in my diet! Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is like giving your digestive system a big hug to start the day with. Oats contain healthy fiber, and the best part is that half of it is insoluble and the other half is soluble, the combination of which is a recipe for success in digestion.
Oats are fantastic for your skin; they will tighten up those pores like magic! They also contain saponins for cleaning your pores, and on top of that, they’re just barely rough enough to make a perfect exfoliant. And, oh! An oatmeal bath is spectacular for smoothing and softening your skin and if you have eczema, it can help to heal your skin. (There are also some great oatmeal AND yogurt facial recipes out there – just sayin’!)
My favorite ways to enjoy…
Applesauce oatmeal muffins – divine!
Oatmeal carrot cookies! — Take one with you for an afternoon treat!
By the bowl! I typically eat mine plain, but I do adore it with a touch of brown sugar and some walnuts
4. Grape Seed Oil
This is one of the foods for beauty that doesn’t get a lot of press, but it should! Grape seed oil is loaded in polyphenols (antioxidants) that have all kinds of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits.
One of the biggest? Acne prevention! Putting grape seed oil on your skin will clean out your pores, prevent them from clogging, and help keep those nasty breakouts at bay. And, since it’s got linoleic acid (a fatty acid that helps your skin and cell membranes), it is a fantastic all natural moisturizer. And, I promise: you shouldn’t worry that it’s an “oil.” It actually leaves your skin very non-oily/non-greasy. And, if that isn’t enough, it’s packed in Vitamin C, so keep yourself healthier and feeling more energetic!
My favorite ways to enjoy grape seed oil…
- Replace your usual oil with this in salad dressings, marinades, stir fries.
- Bake with it!
- By the bowl! Pour a bowl of it, flavor with garlic, add your favorite seasonings and dip your bread in!
Fish is loaded with omega-3 fat (EPA), a good-for-you fat that helps preserve your collagen, meaning younger, fresher, tighter skin. On top of that, it boosts the skin’s ability to keep water for more luscious-looking skin.
According to the latest medical research, fish (especially salmon) is known to reduce PMS and depression! Since fish is loaded in lean protein, it’s also a wonderful food for helping you feel full and for muscle recovery. So next time you hit the weights hard and tear your muscles apart, consider a healthy fillet of salmon as a post-workout recovery food.
My favorite ways to enjoy salmon…
- Grilled fillets with light mango salsa
- In a lovely summer salad with fresh tender greens and cherry tomatoes!
- In a bowl! – Salmon chowder!
Tara Alley is a freelancer whose passion lies in healthy eating and living a green, natural life. When she’s not writing about what she’s eating (or wants to be eating!), you’ll find her writing for work about ditching home heating systems this winter and replacing them with green, eco-friendly air heaters.
[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by quacktaculous]