What’s on your plate?

The best foods to eat for radiant skin

It’s true what they say – you are what you eat. And glowing, radiant skin is a sign of good health and wellbeing. “To achieve radiant skin, as a general rule, it is advisable to avoid foods that will spike your blood sugar levels,” explains Uxshely Chotai from The Food Psychology Clinic (www.thefoodpsychologyclinic.co.uk). “Keeping your blood sugar levels constant is a great way to ensure that you skin stays in the best possible condition. This means that sweet treats and refined carbohydrates are definitely ruled out if you are looking to keep your skin as radiant as possible.” It’s not all bad news though, as certain foods are highly beneficial to your complexion and should be added to our plates on a regular basis. Here we take a look at some of the best skin foods.

Berries

“Berries such as blueberries and raspberries are great for the skin,” says Uxshely. “Despite being sweet, berries are fruits that will not spike your blood sugar levels and they also contain beneficial polyphenols and a range of vitamins and minerals depending on the berry you choose. It is easy to incorporate berries into most meals – you can sprinkle them over your porridge in the morning, eat them with some Greek yogurt after dinner or even add them to your salad for lunch.”

Avocados

“Avocados are a top skin superfood,” says nutritionist Rick Hay (www.rickhay.co.uk). “They are packed full of essential fatty acids that nourish and moisturise the skin. They are also high in fibre so they help to keep you regular and boost the digestive system. Healthy elimination leads to skin that is more radiant. Avocados are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which can help to protect the skin from pollutants both internal and external. You can also make them into guacamole – if you add a little chili this will help the circulation even more, which further helps skin health.”

Flaxseeds

“Flaxseeds are wonderful for your skin,” says Uxshely. “They are a vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be extremely anti-inflammatory and beneficial to the skin. You can easily incorporate flaxseeds into your diet and can sprinkle them over porridge, salads and soups.”

Papaya

“Papaya is chock full of important nutrients for skin protection and vitality,” explains Tilly Spurr, nutritionist and tutor at Future Fit School of Nutrition (futurefit.co.uk). “Its beautiful flesh colour is caused by a high content of the phytonutrients beta-carotene and lycopene. Both strong antioxidants, they protect the skin against free radical damage and also act uniquely to protect against UV-induced erythema, reducing sun damage and skin ageing. Vitamin C helps prevent the oxidative damage to skin proteins, regulates the synthesis of the structural protein collagen, improves skin condition and reduces dryness. A small papaya contains 140 per cent of the UK daily recommended nutrient intake (RNI). Papaya is perfect eaten for breakfast: simply cut in half, remove the seeds and enjoy.”

Leafy greens

“Leafy greens such as watercress, spinach and kale are extremely beneficial for the skin,” says Uxshely. “When choosing the base for your salad, always go for the deep green-coloured leaves rather than the lighter leaves such as iceberg lettuce. These dark leafy greens are a great source of fibre, vitamins such as vitamin A, C and K and antioxidants that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.”

Orange foods

“Orange foods, like oranges (obviously!), carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots and mangoes contain decent levels of vitamin A which is a key skin health vitamin,” says Rick. “The orange pigments contain carotenoids that provide extra antioxidant protection. They are also rich in vitamin C which helps with collagen cross linking – meaning they can help with skin smoothness and plumpness. Vitamin C can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles too. These fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fibre so they help with cleansing and elimination, which is important in order to keep skin healthy and glowing.”

Olive oil

“Olive oil, as well as being great for heart health, is also great for your skin,” says Uxshely. “The oleic acid in olive oil helps the absorption of essential fatty acids and olive oil is also known to be anti-inflammatory due to the hydroxytrosol that it contains. Use it as a dressing for your salads and drizzle some over your other meals.”

Pistachios

“Supple glowing skin and healthy cell membranes require oil or fats which help your body absorb complexion-friendly antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins,” explains Tilly. “Pistachios predominantly have the healthy monounsaturated oil oleic acid and they are a good source of vitamins A and E particularly linked with healthy skin. Their lovely mottled mix of green, pink and purple colours are created by their rich content of phytonutrients. They contain anti-ageing stilbene resveratrols and proanthocyanins which support and enhance the action of vitamin C, maintaining the natural elasticity of collagen in skin and improving blood flow. They are perfect to snack on – guilt free!”

Greek yogurt

“Greek yogurt, or a vegan alternative such as almond or coconut yogurt, is great for the skin due to the beneficial bacteria that it contains,” says Uxshely. “Gut health has been shown to be directly linked to skin health – so if you want the best possible skin you have to take care of your gut. Consume yogurt, or other foods that take care of your gut, such as kefir, regularly, to give your gut and skin the chance to be as healthy as possible.”

Skin drink

Try this skin-friendly smoothie, devised by nutritionist Rick Hay.

Ingredients

  • A couple of handfuls of berries – fresh or frozen
  • A handful of spinach
  • 200ml of almond milk or rice milk
  • 1 tsp of linseeds
  • 2 tsp coconut yoghurt

Method

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Rick says: “This smoothie is rich in vitamin C, thanks to the berries, and essential fatty acids, due to the linseeds. It has a nice fibre content for skin health too. The spinach is a good source of iron for energy and magnesium to help the nervous system. And it tastes good too!”

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