In the market for that moonbeam effect? Get your glow on, girl! Radiant skin starts with a healthy diet, full of nutritious foods that boost your luminosity. Lisa Drayer, author of The Beauty Diet: Looking Great Has Never Been So Delicious, shares her grocery list for gorgeous skin, hair and nails. Another beautiful bonus: These foods will help you run faster and stronger!
One of the best sources of vitamin C, kiwis protect against signs of aging, a common problem for runners who spend countless hours in the sun. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that a diet high in vitamin C was associated with fewer noticeable wrinkles. The furry green fruit also helps you maintain a beautiful smile, according to another study linking low levels of vitamin C consumption to gum disease.
“The omega-3 fats found in these fish play a key role in keeping skin soft and smooth,” says Drayer, who recommends stocking your fridge with salmon. By reducing inflammation at the cellular level, omega-3 fats prevent scaly skin, redness and acne. Studies have found that fish oils also protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Although it may be a few more dollars per pound, make sure you opt for the wild variety to avoid the toxins found in farmed fish.
One cup of plain, low-fat yogurt supplies 450mg of calcium. That’s close to half your recommended daily dose! The bone-building mineral is key if you want beautiful nails, good posture and a radiant smile. Yogurt also packs a serious protein punch. Drayer explains, “Our nails are made of the protein keratin, so to grow long, strong nails, it’s important to consume an adequate amount of protein,” a nutrient that’s also imperative for running performance and muscular repair.
These little gifts from the sea are one of the best sources of zinc in the world. Zinc is a major player in skin renewal because it encourages collagen creation, and it also helps maintain strong nails and healthy hair. Despite a reputation as an aphrodisiac, few studies have found that mollusks actually up your romance quotient— but, hey, whatever gets you glowing!
Forget an apple a day—what your skin really craves is a cup of blueberries. In one study, researchers compared the levels of anti-aging antioxidants in 40 common fresh fruits and veggies and found that blueberries ranked number one. The pigments in this summer fruit preserve the collagen in your skin, creating that healthy, dewy effect. Bonus: One cup has only 80 calories and 4 grams of fiber.
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving rolls around to enjoy these brightly colored spuds. Sweet potatoes contain a big boost of beauty-enhancing betacarotene, a fat-soluble pigment found in orange vegetables and fruits that prevents fine lines and wrinkles. “Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which keeps skin soft and smooth,” explains Drayer.
“Lack of iron can lead to dry, brittle hair,” says Drayer. “Even if you are not clinically anemic, you can experience hair loss.” The good news: It’s easy to battle a thinning mane with iron-rich foods like red meat and spinach. This leafy green veggie also boasts an exceptional lutein content to keep eyes healthy and bright. Need another excuse to have a salad for lunch? Spinach contains a significant amount of beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc and fiber.
Achieve a smooth skin tone, healthy hair, vibrant eyes and strong bones with help from these tasty little kernels. Walnuts are the only type of nut that contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, they provide vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage (think healing those post-long run, wind-burnt cheeks).
Dark chocolate is a treat for your skin as well as your taste buds! “It’s great for your complexion,” says Drayer. Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa flavanol—plant compounds that have antioxidant properties associated with softer skin. In one study, women who regularly drank a cocoa-flavanol beverage for 12 weeks experienced significant improvements in their skin, including an increase in hydration and less roughness and scaling.
Tomatoes provide an astonishing amount of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene, the bright red carotenoid pigment that gives these savory fruits their color. One study showed that people who ate tomato paste every day for several weeks experienced lower levels of sunburn. Tomatoes also offer vitamin C, another big beauty nutrient that improves elasticity while brightening skin. ■
The Beauty Diet: Looking Great Has Never Been So Delicious by Lisa Drayer is available on amazon.com and in bookstores nationwide.