Although I am grateful that people are wising up about what to put on their skin, as a culinary nutritionist, my main concern is what we put in our bodies, nourishing ourselves from the inside out. Our beautiful skin, like every other organ in our body, can take a real beating from processed foods, an overabundance of sugar, salt, bad fats, food chemicals and dehydration. We are what we eat after all. Here are some of my favorite foods that protect your skin from the inside.
Dark Chocolate. I am not talking a Hershey’s bar. I am talking about real, dark chocolate, at least 70% unsweetened cocoa. Cocoa powder has enormous amounts of antioxidants, which help protect our skin from aging and our bodies from disease. More important, chocolate contains flavanols, compounds that protect skin from damaging UV sun rays. But go easy. It’s high in calories, so a square a day is just enough. Excellent uses: add unsweetened cocoa powder into smoothies, or make a chia seed pudding.
Avocados. High in monounsaturated fats, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K, all which help blood flow and keeping your skin soft and healthy looking. Great alternatives: extra virgin olive oil, salmon. Excellent uses: eat as is, as a spread on sandwiches or in this dip.
Walnuts. A superior amount of vitamin E, omega-3 fats, and important minerals help keep inflammation at bay. Other great choices: almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds. Excellent uses: I add walnuts to my oatmeal, eat plain as a snack or even make walnut milk with them.
Spinach. An excellent source of iron, vitamin C and vitamin K, all which help to strengthen blood vessels, oxygenate your skin and manufacture new skin cells. Anti aging, skin repair, and overall beautiful glow are just a few benefits of eating this versatile leafy green. Great runners up: kale, collard greens, watercress, arugula. Excellent uses: read my post on seven ways to use spinach. I put it in smoothies, turkey meatloaf, basically anywhere I can.
Parsley. We often think of herbs as a lovely garnish on our dinner plates, but fresh herbs have enormous anti-inflammatory benefits. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, beta carotene, and micro minerals, parsley can calm down inflamed skin (think acne or psoriasis) and overall speed up skin in healing. Other amazing herbs: cilantro, basil, thyme, oregano. Excellent uses: in soups, salads, salad dressings, chopped and tossed with grains.
Hemp Seeds. Not to be confused with something else that you can smoke, hemp seeds contain huge amounts of omega-3 fats, fiber, protein and essential minerals, all necessary building blocks of beautiful skin. Other great seeds: flaxseeds, chia seeds. Excellent uses: Hemp seeds go on my oatmeal, in yogurt, in baked goods.
Now I would love to hear from you. Is what you eat for your skin as important as what you put on your skin? Let me know what you do to keep your skin glowing and healthy!