The foods in this list below have been shown to be extremely beneficial for skin and hair health. All play a role and variety is crucial to ensure you access a full spectrum of nutrients. As important is good digestion, assimilation, and utilization of the foods you are consuming. This means eating in a relaxed state and enjoying your meal. Ideally with loved ones.
Now, read on and invite these foods into your dietary regime. You may be surprised with some of the foods in this lineup. Particularly, the first one.
I'll start with something you are likely to appreciate for most of us are a fan of this divine bean.
Dark chocolate – 76%+ and raw cacao
Oh chocolate - you are a friend of mine and for so many reasons beyond the divine, rich, taste of quality cacao. Rich in iron, minerals, fiber and protein research also show dark chocolate protects skin from sun damage. Chocolate in raw cacao form contains anti-aging antioxidants called flavonoids, which fight free radicals to protect your skin from UV damage and prevent the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin discolorations.
When we enjoy chocolate the brain releases endorphins, your body's natural feel-good chemical, and phenylethylamine, which elicits the head-over-heels feeling of falling in love. Also, when you feel good, you look good. All this to say, enjoy some quality chocolate with joy.
Hemp seeds are made up of 30 percent pure protein and a full range of amino acids and essential fatty acids needed to maintain your skin’s structure. You can sprinkle a spoonful on cereal, add it to your morning smoothie or use hemp seed oil in dips. According to a study noted in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, symptoms of skin dryness and itching significantly improved after using hemp seed oil for 20 weeks when consuming one to two tablespoons a day. Best is to source it with the seeds in whole food form.
These little wonders are packed with zinc, as well as vitamins A and K and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are essential to building a healthy hair shaft. They’re also rich in fatty acids and vitamin C, which are important for producing sebum ‘your skin’s natural oil ‘ to protect and repair skin.
These tiny seeds are packed with protein, fiber, and loads of omega-3s -- all great for your skin and hair. Since chia seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, they also keep you feeling fuller longer. Soak them in advance in non dairy milk or water and make into a pudding, blend into smoothies, or grind some up and mix with water for an egg substitute in baking.
Almonds are rich in flavonoids and vitamin E, which is vital to skin health. They can help ward off damaging free radicals and even oxidative damage caused by smoking. Almonds also make a great source of satisfying fiber and protein, and their manganese and selenium content helps keep your hair shiny. Look for organic, raw almonds and almond butter.
Flaxseeds provide a huge boost of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beyond good for you. Preliminary studies have shown that both omega-6 and omega- 3 fatty acids help prevent or treat skin conditions like acne and eczema. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s can also maintain a healthy rate of skin cell renewal. To ensure your body absorbs all these beauty-boosting benefits, purchase whole flaxseeds and grind up before using. This helps ensure the omega three potency.
Walnuts contain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that help your skin stay smooth and plump. Walnuts also protect your hair from sun damage and keep it lustrous and shiny. Get your daily dose of by eating a handful raw or throwing some chopped walnuts in your salad, pasta or dessert. It's best to keep this perishable nut in the fridge or freezer as they can go rancid easily.
Avocados are well known as a 'healthy fat'. One that is nourishing for hair, skin, and nails. The monounsaturated fatty acids are shown to help lower bad cholesterol levels, and minimize the appearance of aging in skin. Avocados contain antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate. One avocado has more potassium than the proverbial banana. Usually around 700 milligrams. This is significant given the RDA according to the National Institutes of Health.
These gems are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamins that help protect you from premature aging. The antioxidants in berries help minimize the damage of the free radicals known to accelerate wrinkle formation and cause disease. The vitamin C in berries is essential to the production of well marketed collagen, a protein aiding in the growth of cells and blood vessels. For healthier, more youthful skin berries are a must have.
Sea vegetables like nori or wakame are loaded with iron and phytonutrients. All of these nutrients can help you attain gorgeous, supple skin. Iron, manganese, iodine, copper, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium -- all found in sea vegetables -- are essential for gorgeous hair, skin, and nails. Enjoy these in mixed green salads, toss some wakame into your miso soup, or wrap up some veggies in nori sheets to make nori rolls.
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have incredible beauty benefits, including glowing skin and shiny strands. About three percent of the hair shaft is made up of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re found in cell membranes on your scalp and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated. While salmon is usually the superstar choice, Foy says mackerel, sardines and anchovies are even better. ‘They’re great because they’re at the bottom of the food chain, so they’re not living for very long, which means toxins like mercury do not accumulate in them.’
These legumes are a good source of protein and iron, which support full-bodied hair. They are also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Enjoy them regularly.
Red Bell Peppers
Red peppers contain far more skin-boosting vitamin C than oranges and ‘Vitamin C is a pre-cursor to collagen production. It's also a great antioxidant,'. Incorporating red peppers into your diet will help keep your skin younger-looking.
Not only does spinach give you strength, but it’s also a major anti-ager. It' s rich in beta carotene, which converts into the powerful anti-aging vitamin A. This nutrient is crucial for allowing proper moisture retention to the epidermis, helping to prevent wrinkles and remove dead skin. For premium absorption, pair spinach with a food that’s high in vitamin C.
All greens are great for our health, but collard greens are one of the most underappreciated. They are extremely high in vitamin C, a major antioxidant that fights toxins (just one cup of collards provides 70 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C). If you’re trying to eat more raw meals this summer, try this take on the traditional taco: Mix ground walnuts with taco spice and a few dashes of tamari, top with salsa and roll in raw collard leaves.
The water from coconuts is a great natural hydration aid and contains potassium, an electrolyte that helps move nutrients into our cells. Coconut oil, which is high in healthy fats, vitamins E and K and minerals, is one of the best natural nutrients for your hair, boosting growth and shine by moisturizing the scalp. Use it topically.
Minerals play a big role and oats have high amounts of zinc, biotin, magnesium and potassium,’ A deficiency in these key nutrients can lead to more brittle hair and more breakage.’ For the perfect summer breakfast, Foy suggests making soaked oats in a Mason jar: Fill a small jar halfway with oats, top with your favorite non-dairy milk (almond or soy or coconut water or fresh pressed juice) and spices (like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg), and let soak overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add berries, nuts and seeds for added nutritional value.
We all got the message about the benefits of eating whole avocados; now it’s the oil that’s getting all the attention. Avocados contain good amounts of vitamins A, D and E and omega-9 fatty acids one of the building blocks of healthy skin which is highly concentrated in the oil. All of these nutrients help to even out skin tone over time when added to your diet regularly.
Poached is best, don’t fry, and enjoy with some raw foods such as greens or salsa or salad. One of the healthy ingredients is sulfur, an essential nutrient that helps with everything from vitamin B absorption to liver function (your body’s detox organ). Sulfur is also necessary for the production of collagen and keratin, which help create and maintain shiny locks, strong nails and glowing skin.
Truly one of nature’s best medicines, garlic also helps prevent breakouts and maintain clear skin. To make the most of its naturally antibiotic compounds, it’s best to crush or chop garlic and leave it on the cutting board for a few minutes before cooking.
Tomatoes are skincare superheroes, protecting you from sun damage thanks to their high antioxidant content. A recent study presented at The Royal Society of Medicine in London found that women who were given five tablespoons of standard tomato paste with 10 grams of olive oil every day for 12 weeks showed significant improvement in their skin’s ability to protect itself against UV damage.
This sweet treat is high in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which is known to be an effective skin softener. Drinking pineapple juice and munching on the fruit help the body synthesize collagen, which supports skin structure, while vitamin C and amino acids aid in cell and tissue repair, giving you a youthful appearance. Add it to your morning smoothie for a refreshing treat.
These saltwater delicacies do wonders for hair, nails and skin. ‘They’re a great source of dietary zinc, which is really important for the growth and function of skin cells,‘ says Dr. Carroll. ‘If you go out and order half a dozen oysters that will give you 500 percent of your daily requirement.’
As you can see from this long list, eating a well balanced diet of 'whole-foods' is foundational to our health. If you are already doing this and still struggling, you may need to invest more time into healing your gut health. As mentioned earlier, ingestion of foods is only one aspect to nourishment. Our ability to properly digest and utilize the nutrients is at the heart of the matter. Leaky gut challenges plague many in our society. Coming soon - ways to help heal common digestion challenges.
Info accessed with excerpts from Ciara Foy, a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist and various articles and blogs from Nutritionfacts.org, Huff Post, Dr Axe and an article in The Best Health Mag where you will find all kinds of health helpful information.