Got the munchies? Snack your way to better skin by swapping the Twix for a handful of nuts and fruit.
Not only do nuts contain hunger-quashing protein to keep cravings at bay, but they also boast vitamins and minerals essential to skin health, such as Omega 3’s, vitamin E, zinc and selenium. And when you pair nuts with fruit, you’ll be feeding your body an even bigger wallop of antioxidants – those skin-saving free radical fighters that help ward off skin problems. Need recipe ideas? Here are some tasty nuts + fruit combos to get your skin clear and glowing.
Macadamia Nuts + Pomegranate Seeds = Skin Plumper!
The buttery taste of macadamia nuts goes well with the tart flavour of pomegranate seeds. Both boost collagen production and contain phytochemicals to help fight the free radical damage that can contribute to fine lines. For a sweet treat, try this easy decadent recipe.
Fruit and Nut Bark
Spread melted dark chocolate on a parchment lined cookie sheet and top with macadamia nuts and pomegranate seeds. Chill in the fridge until firm and then break into pieces.
The bark will last up to 1 week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Pecans + Cherries = Freckle Fader!
Rich in vitamin E and B complex vitamins, pecans contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of any nut. Pair them with cherries, which are rich in melatonin and biotin, to help fight free radicals and damage from UV rays. Try topping a half cup of protein rich Greek yogurt with fresh pitted cherries and pecans for a quick and tasty snack.
Almonds + Apricots = Wrinkle and Blemish Killer!
Both are rich in fibre to help detoxify the body and regulate insulin levels. Studies have shown that a spike in insulin can contribute to acne. Apricots also contain high levels of vitamin A, which is more readily absorbed by the body when eaten with the mono saturated fat contained in almonds. Apricots are also a very good source of vitamin C, a building block of plumping-collagen. Try adding chopped fresh apricots and raw almonds to 4 ounces of low fat yogurt.
Walnuts + Blackberries = Zits Fighter!
This dynamic duo can help soothe acne prone skin. The slightly tart blackberry contains plenty of antioxidants and zinc to help keep pimples in check, while rich tasting walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids to further reduce inflammation and combat redness. Try combining them in the following recipe for a quick breakfast or mid-morning snack.
Quick Blackberry Muesli
1/3 cup (78ml) rolled oats
1/3 cup (78ml) plain low fat yogurt
½ cup (125ml) blackberries
2 tbsp (30ml) chopped walnuts
½ tsp (2.5 ml) honey
½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground flax seeds
1/8 tsp (1ml) ground cinnamon (optional)
In a small bowl combine rolled oats and yogurt. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow oats to soften slightly. Add blackberries, walnuts, and honey and flax seeds, stirring to combine. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.
Marianne Wren is a Toronto-based food stylist and recipe developer. For more, visit her website.
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Flaxseed Oil/Borage Oil
High in essential fatty acids, both Omega 3 and 6, these seed oils were found in a French study to reduce redness when skin was purposely irritated. "Both [borage and flaxseed] groups showed significant decreases in skin roughness and scaling after 12 weeks, while no change was observed in the placebo group."
Brewed green tea is incredibly high in antioxidants, important for eliminating free radicals which can damage skin cells and cause signs associated with aging. Polyphenols in green tea have been found to rejuvenate dying skin cells. Green tea also has vitamin C, a potent antioxidant which reduces inflammation and protects cell membranes.
Fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, whitefish and char are high in Omega 3 fats. Fatty fish are particularly high in EPA and DHA, two forms of the essential omega 3s that are associated with decreased inflammation which can be the root cause of skin problems. They also help to maintain the healthy structure of cell walls allowing for the right nutrients to get in while the waste products are kicked out. Healthy cell membranes equals healthy skin.
Berries are considered some of the most potent sources for antioxidants which protect skin cells from free radical damage. When protected from damage at the cellular level the skin looks younger for longer. Strawberries are also a good source of silica, a vital trace mineral for healthy skin and connective tissue.
A great source of silica, a trace mineral that strengthens the body's connective tissues and is vital for healthy skin. Other sources of silica include leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb.
Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidants that help fend off wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin C boosts collagen and elastin, which helps keep skin looking vibrant. Caffeic acid protects skin cells from UV radiation. Cucumbers' natural anti-inflammatory properties calm and soothe skin reddened by rosacea or sunburn when applied topically. Cucumbers also contain silica.
Carrots contain both betacarotene (precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C. Vitamin A is necessary for the growth and maintenance of healthy skin cells. Dry skin or red bumps on the skin are possible symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Betacarotene acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals, helping to prevent wrinkles, resist infection and keep skin youthful.
Don't throw out the seeds from that jack-o-lantern. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, an important mineral component of healthy skin. Zinc is especially important for acne sufferers, (acne may actually be a symptom of zinc deficiency). Zinc helps to control the production of sebum in the skin, and may also act by regulating some of the hormones that create acne.
Methyl Sulfonyl Methane
If you're looking to really see some changes in your skin, try supplementing with methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM), a particularly bio-available form of sulphur. Although it's available in some wild-grown fruits and vegetables that have had exposure to rain water, MSM is chemically altered and destroyed when foods are processed, heated, or dehydrated, so the best source is from supplements. Sulfur produces flexible skin and muscle tissue, helps prevent wrinkling, hydrates collagen and increases the growth of hair and nails. There's a reason hot sulfur baths are valued in spa circles!
Remaining properly hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Caffeinated beverages, sugar drinks and juice don't count - it has to be water! Water hydrates skin cells, allowing them to move cell wastes out and move nutrients in more easily. A properly hydrated body sweats more efficiently, keeping skin clean and open.