Guest Blogger

Could five essential superfoods beat an expensive cosmetic when it comes to super skin?

It seems like every magazine features the new cream, lotion or serum that’s touted to be the next “superstar for healthy skin.” But the reality is that true beauty comes from within. How we live our lives and what we eat can have enormous effects on our outward appearances. Unhealthy habits like tanning and smoking can wreak havoc on our skin causing free radicals to attack cells. The results can be anything from premature wrinkling, loss of firmness, age spots and even cancer.

The good news is that a diet of whole foods packed with vitamins, minerals, good fatty acids and antioxidants — along with staying hydrated – can not only help protect you from damage, but give you that healthy glow that you just can’t find in a bottle.

In fact, the following foods are five superstars for healthy skin. Add them to your diet on a regular basis for make-up free confidence.

Five Essential Superfoods for Super Skin

#1 Spinach – This common leafy green which is chock full of vitamin E not only tastes great in smoothies and omelets or in a salad but helps protect cell membranes and guard against UV radiation damage. But what makes spinach a skin superfood is the addition of beta carotene. Another nutrient critical for skin health, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body to aid in the growth and repair of tissues, including your skin. Add immune-building garlic with this tasty recipe:

#2 Sunflower Nut Butter – Sunflower seeds are an amazing source for vitamin E (see above) and zinc. Your skin contains about 6 percent of all the zinc in your body, so getting enough zinc in your diet is vitally important for skin health. Zinc helps maintain the collagen that keeps skin firm. On top of that, zinc is critically involved in skin renewal — which means that if you want to keep your skin fresh and as youthful as possible, be sure to include zinc-rich foods in your menu.

#3 Watermelon – High in beta carotene and vitamin C, this tasty summer treat is like a spa treatment for your skin. Vitamin C, naturally found in the skin, is involved in collagen production and protects cells from free radical damage. Because vitamin C is destroyed by exposure to sunlight, spending even a short time in the sun can leave skin depleted. It is important to replenish your skin’s vitamin C stores by eating plenty of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. But watermelon’s benefits don’t end there: its high water content help keeps your skin clear and plump. What to do when summer’s over? Try red bell peppers for a super dose of vitamin C and beta carotene.

#4 Turkey – Did you ever think your Thanksgiving feast was actually good for your skin? Well, part of it is. In addition to skin-saving zinc, turkey provides a hearty dose of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps safeguard the skin from sun damage and delays aging by boosting skin quality and elasticity. Dietary selenium has been shown to reduce sun damage, and even to prevent some skin cancers in animals. Wheat germ and brown rice are great runners-up for a vegetarian source of selenium.

#5 Wild Salmon – This popular fish is known for its heart-healthy fatty acids. But what you might not know is that omega-3s also help maintain cell membranes. They ensure that they are effective barriers: allowing water and nutrients in, and keeping toxins out. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and can protect skin against sun damage. Not into fish? This super recipe might make you a fan: . Or try versatile pantry staples like chia and flaxseeds for good sources of omega-3s.

So the next time you’re looking for the miracle elixir for your skin, don’t check the medicine cabinet, look in your refrigerator instead.

Karen Azeez