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The foods you eat don't just affect your waistline, they can also have an effect on your appearance. The wrong foods in your diet can cause chronic inflammation which leads to skin problems and unhealthy hair. Likewise there are plenty of natural foods that can improve the quality of your skin, reduce the chance for acne flareups, and keep you hair and skin looking great as you get older. In general, a diet that is low in grains, unhealthy fats and processed foods is always a good idea for the health benefits, and better skin and hair is just an added benefit that can come from it.
Below are ten of the best foods that can improve your skin and hair naturally and have plenty of other added benefits:
Blueberries are known to be a superfood and have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food available. It is important to eat as many high antioxidant foods as you age because oxidation is one of the main causes for wrinkles and skin problems. Antioxidants keep your skin looking younger and also protect your organs and body from the detrimental effects of oxidation over time, and blueberries are without a doubt one of the best natural sources for these important compounds. Try to eat a half of cup of blueberries each day for their health benefits, and there are plenty of easy recipes for smoothies online if you need recipe ideas.
Spinach is one of the best superfoods for your overall health, and it is rich in antioxidants like blueberries. It has a wide range of vitamins and minerals that are important for skin and hair health including vitamin E, C and B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. In particular, the vitamin C in spinach as well as the folate and beta carotene keeps your hair follicles healthy, and the high antioxidant content of spinach helps prevent premature skin aging. Spinach is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which improve your cardiovascular health and have many other positive effects. Other dark leaky green vegetables are also a good alternative to spinach and contain similar nutrients like kale or swiss chard.
There are a lot of myths regarding oysters and their ability to grow hair. Although oysters aren't likely to give you a full head of hair, they are actually rich in zinc which is one of the most important minerals for hair health, and they are also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The body has no way of storing zinc, so it is important that you get enough zinc in your diet from sources like oysters or meat, and oysters in particular have well over 100% of the recommended daily intake of zinc. Although oysters and shellfish are high in cholesterol, there is no evidence that the cholesterol in shellfish raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, so they shouldn't be avoided for that reason.
Salmon is another great source of omega-3 fatty acids and is another good source of protein and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the body to grow hair, and they are also found in the membranes of the skin, so eating as many foods with omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial. Salmon is one of the best natural sources of these important fatty acids, and wild ocean caught salmon is also much lower in mercury than larger fish like tuna. If you don't like salmon some other options include mackerel, sardines, and herring, which are all low in mercury content as well.
Walnuts are rich in vitamin E and biotin, both of which are important for skin and hair health. The vitamin E in nuts protects your body's DNA from sun damage, and if you have a biotin deficiency (which is rare) it may be causing hair loss. Copper is another mineral found in copper that helps your hair maintain its fullness and color. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids like many of the other foods that are good for your appearance. One way to get more walnuts in your diet is to use walnut oil in salad dressings, but you can also add freshly chopped walnuts to your salads or simply eat them as a snack.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of one of the most potent antioxidants found in nature: lycopene. The lycopene in tomatoes is released in the largest amounts when they are cooked, and foods like ketchup and tomato puree and other cooked tomato products have high levels of this important antioxidant. Tomatoes also have many other antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene. Tomatoes have a synergistic health effect when combined with broccoli that has been shown to reduce cancer risk (in animal studies), and broccoli also happens to be one of the best sources for anti-aging antioxidants as well.
Greek yogurt is touted as a great health food for its high protein content, but it can actually be good for your appearance as well. It is rich in vitamins that are beneficial to your hair and skin including vitamin B5 and vitamin D. Greek yogurt is rich in protein, and one of its most important health benefits is that it helps maintain digestive health. The probiotics that are found in Greek yogurt help maintain a healthy digestive tract and keep the growth of harmful bacteria down. It can help prevent intestinal diseases such as leaky gut syndrome, IBS and other syndromes that can cause a wide range of inflammatory symptoms including skin irritation. Greek yogurt is also lower in lactose than many other dairy foods, which makes it more tolerable for people with lactose sensitivities.
Dark chocolate can protect your skin and keep it looking great with its high antioxidant content. You need to be careful to pick a variety that has at least 70% cocoa, and the higher the cocoa content and the lower the sugar the better. Cocoa is shown to reduce the production of stress hormones which can lead to wrinkles and skin problems. The flavonols in chocolate also protect your skin from sun damage and improve blood flow which gives your skin more of a glow. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can also improve skin hydration which is important for younger looking skin. Be careful with the portions that you eat with dark chocolate, because although it is packed with health benefits it is also a source of calories from sugar.
Before recommending this food, it should be noted that some people do not tolerate legumes such as lentils well, and they may cause inflammatory symptoms for some. But lentils are a great source of protein for vegetarians, and they are rich in a wide range of vitamins including zinc, iron, biotin and many others that are crucial for hair growth and maintaining healthy skin. Lentils are known to be one of the superfoods from the legume family and they also very rich in dietary fiber which is never a bad thing. The iron in lentils can also improve skin circulation and energy levels.