Beauty is only skin deep -- or is it? In order to have a beautiful figure, skin and hair, what goes into your body is just as important as what goes on it.
There are several “beauty foods” that, when added to a healthful diet and exercise regimen, can nourish the body, skin and hair from the inside out.
For healthy eyes, skin and hair, add carotene-rich sweet potatoes to your diet. A nutrient-dense food, sweet potatoes contain vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and potassium. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that contributes to cell growth, while both vitamin A and potassium contribute to healthy skin. Bake sweet potatoes either chopped or whole with the skin on, and add low-fat butter.
Another nutrient-dense food for beauty is almonds. Great for a quick snack or added to a salad, almonds are high in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, copper and riboflavin. Vitamin E protects the body’s tissues, beneficial fat and supply of vitamin A from oxidation, while copper is essential in the synthesis of collagen. Although a bit higher in calories due to the presence of beneficial fatty acids, the nutrient content makes them a healthful form of caloric energy.
Sea vegetables such as seaweed, kelp and nori are another beauty food to add to your diet. High in phytonutrients, specifically iodine, sea vegetables help regulate the thyroid, burn fat and convert carotene into vitamin A, the nutrient essential to healthy skin, hair and eyes. You can add sea vegetables to soups or use them in Japanese sushi rolls. Along with iodine, sea vegetables are also rich in vitamin K, magnesium, foliate, calcium and iron.
No beauty diet would be complete without the calcium and vitamin D found in dairy products for healthy bones and teeth. Unlike hard, grated mozzarella, fresh mozzarella comes in a ball packed with water and has a soft spongy texture. Calcium not only aids in bone and teeth growth, but also helps the function of organs, muscles and nerves. Vitamin D also aids bone and teeth growth, while facilitating the body’s use of calcium and phosphorus. For a beautiful smile and posture, slice tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil, basil and balsamic vinaigrette.
Another beauty food high in vitamin D is salmon. Whether baked, broiled or canned in water, salmon is a nutrient-dense food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B complex and magnesium. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential building blocks of cellular membranes that protect cells from damage. Because the human body does not effectively synthesize omega-3s, it is important to consume foods like salmon for both internal and external cellular health.
Nutrient-dense papaya is another beauty food to add to your diet. For a food with very few calories, papayas are rich in vitamins C, A, E and K, as well as folate and potassium. The vitamin C in papaya, along with copper and iron, is crucial to the formation of collagen in the cells. As the human body ages, collagen levels decrease and cause the skin to lose elasticity and firmness. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxidation damage and infection. Although papaya was once an exotic and seasonal fruit, it is now available in many produce departments year-round.
To complete your beauty food diet, add whole grains such as brown rice for a source of fiber. Fiber provides energy without converting to dietary sugar that can lead to weight gain. Brown rice is also a source of manganese, a mineral that aids in the conversion of protein into energy. Manganese is an important component of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, an enzyme responsible for the production of energy in cellular mitochondria. By adding brown rice to your diet, you help give