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Beauty benefits: The Top 10 Beauty Foods!

Salmon offers multiple beauty benefits:

*Omega-3 fatty acids. These replenish the lipids in the skin, which helps keep skin flexible, helps reduce moisture loss, and may improve acne symptoms. Studies have found that fish oils can protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can lead to free-radical damage, skin aging, and the potential for skin cancer. Other research suggests that omega-3 fats may help keep eyes healthy by protecting against dry eye syndrome. While it is possible to buy fish oil in capsules, research has suggested that fatty acids are absorbed better from whole-food sources. The beneficial fatty acids in salmon (and other fatty fish, such as herring and trout) are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Technically these fatty acids aren’t “essential,” because the human body is capable of synthesizing them, but this process depends on many different factors. The simplest and most pleasurable way to obtain fatty acids in optimal amounts is to eat them!

*Protein. Salmon is one of the best sources of high-quality, easily digested protein that is low in saturated fat. To maintain healthy skin and grow healthy hair and long, strong fingernails, you need to eat protein every day. Protein also plays an essential role in the production of collagen (which gives skin its structure) and elastin (which gives skin its flexibility). Your body needs protein to make everything from neurotransmitters and antibodies to the enzymes that power chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. Protein is good for suppressing appetite because it is digested slowly and does not cause an elevation in blood sugar.

*Astaxanthin. Salmon is the richest food source of the powerful orange pigment called astaxanthin (the same substance that makes cooked lobsters red). Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, 10 times more potent than betacarotene and 100 (or more!) times more powerful than vitamin E. Potent antioxidants have dynamic antiaging effects, so salmon is a food that helps keep us young.

*DMAE. Salmon is a rare dietary source of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE). This substance is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical responsible for communication between nerve cells and muscles. DMAE helps cognitive function, and as an added benefit it improves muscle tone and firmness in the face, thereby reducing wrinkles. DMAE is now being added to many topical beauty preparations, as it appears to help skin tone without any unsightly or uncomfortable side effects.

*Vital vitamins. Salmon contains vitamin D, B vitamins (both covered later in this chapter), and other micronutrients. Salmon is the best whole-food source of vitamin D, which is difficult to obtain from natural-food sources. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in absorbing calcium, which in turn promotes strong bones and teeth.

*Mighty minerals. Salmon is an excellent source of potassium, selenium (both discussed later in the chapter), and other minerals. Selenium helps the skin stay youthful by protecting it against sun exposure and helping it retain its elasticity.

Vitamin D’s Role in Beauty
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we can obtain from our diet or synthesize in our skin when we are exposed to direct sunlight. After vitamin D is consumed (or synthesized), the liver must convert it into a physiologically active form. The beauty benefits of vitamin D generally come from its ability to help us absorb and store the calcium we get from the foods we eat. This means our ability to build strong bones and beautiful teeth depends in part on vitamin D. Twenty to 40 minutes of sunlight exposure without sunscreen, three times a week, will enable you to meet your vitamin D requirements; however, I do not recommend this approach because exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is damaging to your skin. When you use sunscreen, enough UV light still gets through to permit adequate vitamin D synthesis, so there is no need to risk direct exposure without protective sunscreen.

Five Good Whole-Food Sources of Vitamin D
1. Cod liver oil, 1 teaspoon. 453 IU
2. Salmon, cooked, 3.5 oz. 360 IU
3. Mackerel, cooked, 3.5 oz. 345 IU
4. Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1.75 oz. 250 IU
5. Tuna, canned in oil, 3 oz. 200 IU

Low-Fat Yogurt offers multiple beauty benefits:

*Protein. By now you know how important it is to eat some protein every day to have beautiful hair and nails, to keep hunger from getting the best of you, and to keep every aspect of your body functioning and in good repair. Eight ounces of yogurt contains 12 grams of protein.

*Beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains live microorganisms such as L. acidophilus that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. Lactobacteria manufacture B vitamins help digest dairy products, and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. The live cultures in the yogurt produce lactase, which breaks down the lactose. This is helpful for lactose-intolerant individuals.

*Vital vitamins. Yogurt contains B vitamins, which are necessary for many body functions, including cell growth and division. (Vitamin B complex is discussed in more detail later in the post).

*Mighty minerals. Yogurt contains other beauty-enhancing minerals in addition to calcium, including approximately the same amount of potassium as a banana. Yogurt can be classified as anticariogenic, meaning it fights cavities. The calcium and phosphorus in yogurt favor the remineralization of the enamel on our teeth, making our teeth sparkling and cavity-free.

Oysters offer multiple beauty benefits:

*Mighty minerals. In addition to its beauty benefits, zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, aids in wound healing, plays a role in our sense of smell and taste, supports normal growth and development, and is essential for DNA synthesis. Oysters are also a good source of selenium (discussed later in this post), which helps your skin retain its natural elasticity.

*Protein. Oysters are a source of protein, and we need to eat some protein every day to have healthy hair, strong fingernails, and firm skin. Our body uses protein to make neurotransmitters, antibodies, enzymes, hemoglobin, and more.

*Vital vitamins. Six cooked oysters have 1 microgram of vitamin B12 (the recommended dietary allowance is 2.4 micrograms). It is important for many reasons, including its critical role in metabolism, cell growth, and the synthesis of fatty acids (see the vitamin B complex information later in this post).

Selenium’s Role in Beauty: Selenium is a trace mineral that is not difficult to obtain from whole-food sources. Its beauty benefits are related to the fact that selenium helps antioxidants do their job. Selenium helps protect the skin from the damage caused by sun exposure, helps preserve the elasticity of our skin, and slows down the hardening of tissues caused by oxidation.

10 Good Whole-Food Sources of Selenium
1. Brazil nuts, dried, unblanched, 1 ounce (6 nuts), 839 mcg
2. Turkey, giblets, 1 cup, simmered, 322 mcg
3. Canned tuna, light, drained, 3 oz. 65 mcg
4. Oysters, 3 oz. 57 mcg
5. Cod, fresh, cooked, 3 oz. 40 mcg
6. Turkey, light meat, roasted, 3 oz. 27 mcg
7. Beef, ground, lean, broiled, 3 oz. 25 mcg
8. Chicken breast, roasted, 3 oz. 24 mcg
9. Cottage cheese, low-fat, 1 cup, 23 mcg
10. Egg, 1 large, 16 mcg

Blueberries offer multiple beauty benefits:

*Anthocyanins. These are the blue-red pigments that also are present in red wine and other foods; they not only give blueberries their color but also enhance their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries contain at least five different anthocyanins, which boost the effects of vitamin C, neutralize free-radical damage to the collagen matrix (the basis of all body tissues, including skin), protect the neurons in the brain, and strengthen blood vessels.

*Vital vitamins. Blueberries offer a healthy dose of vitamin C and vitamin E. These potent vitamins have antioxidant properties, which help to fight aging by ridding our bodies of harmful chemicals that have damaging, long-term effects on our features and internal organ systems.

*Mighty minerals. Blueberries are a source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure and boost circulation throughout the body.

*Lutein and zeaxanthin. These chemically similar carotenoids are important for our eyes. They appear to protect the eyes through their antioxidant effects, as well as their ability to filter out UV light. One cup of blueberries contains 118 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin combined.

*Ellagic acid. This antioxidant prevents cell damage and may be protective against cancer.

*Fiber. A cup of blueberries has almost 4 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber helps you feel full without adding calories to your diet, which is a big bonus when it comes to staying slim. Plus, fiber helps control cholesterol and protects against diseases of the intestinal tract.

Kiwifruit offers multiple beauty benefits:

*Vital vitamins. One cup of peeled kiwifruit contains more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of oranges. Vitamin C in kiwifruit is integral for collagen production and the maintenance of healthyskin, and research has suggested that high vitamin C intake is associated with fewer wrinkles. Aside from collagen synthesis, the vitamin C in kiwi is essential to the formation of healthy bones, teeth, and capillaries; plus, the vitamin may keep our eyes healthy by protecting against cataracts (see the detailed information on vitamin C in body beautiful post). Vitamin C also helps protect proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radicals.

*Antioxidants. One kiwi also contains 40 micrograms of the powerful antiaging antioxidant beta-carotene, plus it contains the fatsoluble antioxidant vitamin E, which is usually found in nuts and oils. And there’s more. Kiwis are rich in phytonutrients that protect the DNA in the nucleus of human cells from free-radical damage. Researchers are not certain which compounds in kiwi give the fruit its extraprotective antioxidant capacity, but they are sure it is not the fruit’s vitamin C or beta-carotene content.

*Lutein and zeaxanthin. As you read with blueberries, these phytonutrients appear to be important to eye health. One cup of peeled kiwifruit contains 216 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin combined.

*Fiber. Two kiwis contain 5 grams of fiber, which helps keep you slim by promoting a feeling of fullness without contributing calories. Fiber also helps control your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and protects against gastrointestinal disorders.

*Mighty minerals. Kiwifruit contains several beneficial minerals. One cup of peeled kiwifruit has 552 milligrams of potassium—slightly more than a cup of sliced bananas. Potassium is beneficial to cardiovascular health (see the information on potassium later in this post). Kiwis also contain magnesium, which is a major component of bones and teeth.

Sweet Potatoes offer multiple beauty benefits:

*Vital vitamins. One sweet potato more than meets the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A. When your body converts the beta-carotene from your sweet potato into vitamin A, it will help keep your skin smooth and soft. Vitamin A also is important to good vision and eye health, cell division and differentiation, normal functioning of your immune system, and healthy bones, teeth, skin, hair, and fingernails. Additionally, one cup of canned sweet potato (which weighs more than a cup of uncooked) has 63 milligrams of the wondrous water-soluble antioxidant vitamin C (see body beautiful post).

*Mighty minerals. Sweet potatoes help keep your bones strong and teeth sparkling with 40 milligrams of calcium per cup. They are also a good source of magnesium, which plays a critical role in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, as well as a source of manganese, a trace mineral that helps keep bones strong and blood glucose levels normal. Sweet potatoes also have a significant amount of potassium, which is vital for the sodium/ potassium balance in the body. I often recommend potassium-rich foods for those retaining water due to excess consumption of sodium-rich foods.

*Fiber. It’s more exciting than you think. Fiber helps you stay slim, helps control the level of cholesterol in your blood, and helps prevent problems from developing in your intestinal tract. One cooked sweet potato contains 4 grams of dietary fiber.

Potassium’s Role in Beauty
There is considerable evidence that a potassium-rich diet may help regulate blood pressure, maintain bone density, protect against kidney stones, and decrease the risk of stroke. Since potassium improves blood circulation, it helps to give your skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen.

10 Good Whole-Food Sources of Potassium
1. Sweet potato, 1 large baked, 855 mg
2. Tomato paste, 1/4 cup, 664 mg
3. Beets, cooked, 1/2 cup, 655 mg
4. Potato, 1 baked. 610 mg
5. Yogurt, plain, nonfat, 8-oz. container, 579 mg
6. Edamame, 1 cup, 568 mg
7. Kiwifruit, 1 cup, peeled 552 mg
8. Cod, cooked, 3 oz. 439 mg
9. Banana, 1 medium, 422 mg
10. Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup, 419 mg

Spinach offers multiple beauty benefits: Following are some of the beneficial micronutrients in this super-food:

*Lutein and zeaxanthin. One cup of cooked frozen spinach is ranked number one among vegetables by the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 20) for its content of the related antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein is particularly important to eye health.

The human body easily absorbs lutein and deposits it in the region of the retina called the macula and in the lens of the eye, where lutein is able to filter light and prevent oxidation of proteins or lipids within the lens. Lutein acts like “natural sunglasses” by protecting your eyes and also helps prevent damage to your cells, keeping your skin, brain, and heart in great condition. A Harvard University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 6 milligrams of lutein (60 grams of fresh spinach) a day was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of macular degeneration. In addition, studies indicate that people who eat leafy greens are protecting themselves against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related disorders.

*Beta-carotene. Spinach is an excellent source of betacarotene, a key beauty nutrient. One cup of cooked frozen spinach (boiled and drained) has 13,750 micrograms of betacarotene, nearly as much as a baked sweet potato and more than a cup of boiled carrots!

*Alpha-lipoic acid. Spinach has a special gift for you: the antiaging, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound alphalipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid works synergistically with other antioxidants in the skin to reduce the damaging inflammatory effects of sun exposure. It replenishes other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, plus it helps regulate glucose metabolism and keep blood sugar levels stable. It protects cell and mitochondrial lipid membranes from free-radical damage and is especially protective to the mitochondria in nerve cells. This means it may play a role in preventing the effects of aging on the brain. Alpha-lipoic acid boosts cellular levels of glutathione, an antioxidant of tremendous importance in overall health and longevity and essential to the functioning of the immune system.

*Vital vitamins. Spinach is a helpful source of vitamin C. One cup of cooked spinach has 18 milligrams of vitamin C. Spinach is also an unusually good plant source of the fatsoluble antioxidant vitamin E, which helps protect you from accumulating damage caused by free radicals. Previous research has suggested that vitamins C and E and beta-carotene—all found in spinach— may protect against cataracts. Spinach is also impressive as a source of folate (vitamin B9). One cup of raw spinach has 58 micrograms—about 15 percent of your recommended dietary allowance of 400 micrograms. Among its other roles, folate is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells, including red blood cells, because it is needed to replicate DNA.

*Mighty minerals. Among vegetables, spinach contains an unusually high amount of magnesium, which plays a vital role in hundreds of the body’s chemical reactions. With 167 milligrams per cup, raw spinach is also a good source of heart-healthy potassium. Spinach is rich in calcium, although much of it is unavailable, because oxalic acid in spinach binds with calcium, preventing its absorption. It’s also rich in iron. To increase your absorption of iron from spinach, drink a glass of orange juice or otherwise include some vitamin C with your meal.

The B Vitamins: The Beauty Complex

The B vitamins formerly were thought to be a single vitamin, but further research showed that they are distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. Generally the term B vitamin refers to the eight different types of vitamin B that, taken together, are called the vitamin B complex.

The B vitamins work together and are interdependent. Some B vitamins require other B vitamins for synthesis or activation. Together the vitamin B complex is needed to promote cell growth and division and maintain metabolism and muscle tone, as well as healthy skin, hair, and eyes:

B1 (thiamine) plays an important role in helping the body metabolize carbohydrates to produce energy. It is essential to normal growth and development and helps maintain the proper functioning of the heart and the nervous and digestive systems. Foods naturally high in thiamine include spinach, peas, liver, beef, pork, legumes, bananas, and whole grains. The RDA for women is 1.1 mg; for men, 1.2 mg.

B2 (riboflavin) is used in a wide variety of cellular processes and helps metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Foods naturally high in riboflavin include milk, cheese, meat, liver, fish, yogurt, eggs, soybeans, and bananas. Exposure to light destroys riboflavin. The RDA for women is 1.1 mg; for men, 1.3 mg.

B3 (niacin) is needed for energy production in cells and helps with DNA repair. It also helps remove toxins from the body. Supplemental niacin can cause facial flushing. Foods naturally high in niacin include organ meats, chicken, salmon, tuna, nuts, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables. The RDA for women is 14 mg per day; for men, 16 mg.

B5 (pantothenic acid) is critical to the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Foods naturally high in pantothenic acid include eggs, whole grain cereals, legumes, and meat, although it is found in some quantity in nearly every food. The Adequate Intake (AI) for women and men is 5 mg.

B6 (pyridoxine) plays a role in the functioning of over 100 enzymes, including those that synthesize neurotransmitters. It helps the body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates and helps maintain red blood cells. Pyridoxine plays a role in the all-important balancing of sodium and potassium. Foods naturally high in pyridoxine include salmon, chicken, turkey, bananas, spinach, and potatoes. The RDA for women and men up to age 50 is 1.3 mg; for women 51 and up, 1.5 mg; for men 51 and up, 1.7 mg.

B7 (biotin) is sometimes called “the beauty vitamin” because it is important for healthy skin and hair. Biotin helps produce energy during aerobic respiration, helps synthesize fatty acids, and plays a role in metabolizing protein. Usually the “friendly” bacteria in the intestinal tract make enough biotin to meet the body’s needs. The Adequate Intake (AI) for women and men is 30 micrograms.

B9 (folate) plays an important role in many body processes. Folate is widely available; rich sources include leafy vegetables, dried legumes, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat and poultry. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin that is used in supplements and fortified foods. Folate helps with many jobs in the body, including cell maintenance and repair, DNA synthesis, and the formation of red and white blood cells.

The RDA for women and men is 400 micrograms, but women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should consume 600 micrograms a day because folic acid protects against neural tube defects in the baby.

B12 (cobalamin or cyanocobalamin) plays a role in growth and development, helps brain function, and contributes to the formation of red blood cells. It is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the body, affecting not only DNA synthesis but also the synthesis of fatty acids and energy production. B12 can be found naturally only in animal sources, such as clams, salmon, oysters, beef, chicken, turkey, milk, and cheese. The RDA for women and men is 2.4 micrograms.

Tomatoes offer multiple beauty benefits:

*Lycopene. This powerful antiaging antioxidant is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids. Because of its antioxidant effects, lycopene may help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, macular degeneration, and possibly other diseases, such as diabetes and osteoporosis. One study that involved eating 16 milligrams of tomato paste every day for several weeks showed that ingesting lycopene may protect against sunburn.
*Additional antioxidants. Tomatoes contain other antioxidants that work hard to protect you from internal damage, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
These antioxidants are known for their anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties. In addition, tomatoes contain the related antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important to eye health.

*Mighty minerals. Tomatoes contain calcium, which you need for strong bones and teeth; iron, which benefits both your hair and your red blood cells magnesium, which plays a role in over 300 chemical reactions in the body; and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and improves blood circulation. Good blood circulation means efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells, ultimately giving you a healthy, radiant glow.

Walnuts offer multiple beauty benefits:

*Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. In addition to their beauty benefits, including keeping skin smooth and supple, omega-3s have been shown to protect against high blood pressure and heart disease, promote better cognitive function, and contribute to bone strength. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits that help relieve the symptoms of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended intake for alphalinolenic acid is 1.1 grams per day (slightly more for men and pregnant women). One-quarter of a cup of dried walnut halves (about 12) contains 2.27 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, making walnuts an easy way to get our omega-3s.

*Vitamin E. This important antioxidant helps protect cells from free radicals that cause aging. Vitamin E is also an important nutrient for healthy, smooth skin. It helps to boost our immune system and may also keep our eyes bright by reducing the risk of cataracts.

*L-arginine. Walnuts contain relatively high levels of the essential amino acid L-arginine, which plays a special role in the body because it is converted into nitric oxide—a chemical that allows blood vessels to relax, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your cells and promoting good circulation to your skin. Nitric oxide also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and helps the immune system function. L-arginine is of particular interest to people with hypertension, so walnuts can serve as a great addition to their diets.

*Mighty minerals. Walnuts contain both manganese and copper. Both minerals help enzymes that are important in antioxidant defenses. Copper contributes to hair color, and a deficiency of copper can cause changes in the pigment of hair.

*Ellagic acid. This antiaging antioxidant compound supports the immune system and appears to have cancer-fighting properties. Ellagic acid not only helps protect healthy cells from free-radical damage but also helps break down toxins and helps prevent cancer cells from reproducing.

*Melatonin. This hormone is more familiar for regulating sleep—remember to get your beauty rest!—but it also is a powerful antioxidant, so it gives your skin a beauty boost.

Dark Chocolate offers multiple beauty benefits:

1. For the greatest nutritional boost, choose dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate may be delicious, but they do not have any health or beauty benefits. In general, flavanol content in chocolate products, from highest to lowest, goes like this:
*Natural cocoa powder
*Unsweetened baking chocolate
*Dark chocolate
*Semisweet chocolate baking chips
*Milk chocolate

2. Choose natural cocoa over “Dutch processed” cocoa, which has been treated with an alkali to give it a milder flavor. This process strips the cocoa of its natural flavanols.

3. Buy chocolate that is at least 60 percent cacao. As just mentioned, it won’t necessarily mean the product is high in flavanols since some manufacturers remove them to eliminate their bitter taste, but it’s a better bet than chocolate with lower percentages.


Chocolate Causes Acne
Last Valentine’s Day my friend told me she was watching Jay Leno on television when he made a joke about the chocolate in Valentine’s candy giving your sweetheart acne. I wanted to set him straight and tell him, “No, Jay! Somebody gave you the wrong information. That’s a myth!” Of course, the correct information would have spoiled the joke. Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by chocolate.

So what exactly does cause our unwanted blemishes? For one, hormonal shifts may be to blame. Changing hormone levels in women can result in acne two to seven days before your menstrual period starts. Other skin-challenging factors include stress, pollution, and high humidity. Interestingly, some recent research has suggested that lots of highly refined carbohydrates may contribute to acne. So, do what you can to minimize these pimple producers—but keep the dark chocolate on hand! The flavanols in cocoa have been shown to improve skin structure and blood flow, making small amounts of dark chocolate a legitimate, and delectable, part of your skincare regimen. Just be sure to limit your portion sizes.

4. Keep portions small to avoid excess calories. One ounce of dark chocolate contains about 150 calories. If you overindulge, the sugar and fat content of the chocolate will negate any benefits from the antioxidants!

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