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Protein for Youthful Skin, Strong Nails, and Glossy Hair

An important beauty nutrient, protein is the main structural component of our bodies, and it plays a key role in the health of our features. Hair, skin, fingernails, muscles, bones, organs, tissues, and cells all need a constant supply of protein for growth and repair. By nourishing our bodies with protein, we are more likely to attain beautiful hair and fingernails. Protein also is an essential component of collagen, the connective tissue that provides support for beautiful skin. To keep skin supple and slow down the signs of aging, it is important to consume an adequate amount of protein on a daily basis.

On the Beauty Diet, I recommend consuming about 25 percent of your calories as protein. Based on 1,500 calories, this is equivalent to 94 grams of protein a day. More than this amount is not necessary, and consuming excess protein (such as the amounts indicated on very low–carbohydrate diets) can stress the liver and kidneys; plus, the body converts any protein it can’t use into fat. Because you do need some high-quality protein every day—it’s critical to beauty! — My Beauty Diet meal plans give you the amount that you need without going overboard.

Protein for Beautiful Body:

Your body does not store protein, so you need to eat some every day to continuously refresh your skin cells and keep your hair and fingernails growing long and strong. Protein comes from both animal and vegetable sources, including different kinds of meat, fish and shellfish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes, and (to a lesser extent) grains. Following is a list of healthy sources of protein.


Chicken breast, 3 oz. 26 g
Lean beef, 3 oz. 23 g
Tuna, 3 oz. 20 g
Salmon, 3 oz. 19 g
Cod, 3 oz. 19 g
Shrimp, 3 oz. 18 g
Crab, 3 oz. 18 g
Cottage cheese, low-fat, 1/2 cup, 18 g
Lobster, 3 oz. 17 g
Mozzarella cheese sticks, 2 sticks, 12 g
Yogurt (plain, nonfat), 1 cup, 10 g
Oysters, 3 oz. 10 g
Tofu, 1/2 cup, 10 g
Milk (nonfat), 8 oz. 9 g
Lentils, 1/2 cup, 9 g
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons 8 g
Edamame (shelled), 1/2 cup, 8 g
Cheddar cheese (low-fat), 1 oz. 7 g
Pumpkin seeds, 1 oz. 7 g
Egg, 1 piece, 6 g
Oatmeal, 1 cup, 6 g
Almonds, 1 oz. 6 g
Walnuts, 1 oz. 4 g
Whole grain cereal (Kashi Flakes) 1/2 cup, 4 g
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice, 3.5 g
Brown rice, 1/2 cup, 3 g
Vegetables (frozen), 1 cup, 3 g

Good Sources of Beauty-Enhancing Omega-3 Fatty Acids

*Salmon, one of my Top 10Beauty Foods, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce serving has about 1,800 milligrams (1.8 grams). My preferred choice is wild salmon (see beauty benefits: The Top 10 Beauty Foods for more on salmon).

*Flaxseed oil has the highest content of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 essential fatty acid, of any food. A teaspoon of flaxseed oil (or a rounded tablespoon of ground flaxseeds) contains approximately 2,000 milligrams (2 grams) of healthyomega-3 fatty acids.

*Other sources include cold-water fish, such as mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, and trout; oysters; hemp seeds and hemp seed oil; walnuts and walnut oil; wheat germ and wheat germ oil; canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined); soybeans and soybean oil; pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds; Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, and peanuts; avocados; and some dark leafy green vegetables.

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