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Posts tagged ‘antioxidants’

Food as Skin Savers?

Get Good Skin

Get Good Skin

If you can eat your way to good skin, wouldn’t that be lovely?  The truth is—you absolutely can.  Ok, we’re sick of “you’re what you eat,” but the often repeated maxim holds–at least for skin.

If food can make or break your skin, what categories of foods are skin-friendly? According to health experts, there are many:

Vitamin A

Absolutely essential for good skin. First of all, vitamin A is a well-know antioxidant, which rightly enables it to capture free radicals from damaging cells, even those on the skin. You can obtain vitamin A from fruits and vegetbles, but low-fat dairy products are best. According to nutrition expert, Liz Lipski, low-fat yogurt takes the prize.  Why? Low-fat yogurt is not only high in vitamin A, it boosts high levels of  the probiotics, acidophilus (good live bacteria), that patrol the gut to ensure intestinal health and anything that keeps digestion normal is going to be reflected in healthy skin.

Antioxidants

Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables are colorful because of a group of powerful antioxidants, anthocyanins. These potent antioxidants protect skin against cellular damage. Now, that’s a good thing for skin cells.  A recent study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry listed its own famous quartets of health–Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and plums–they  have the highest “total antioxidant capacity.” So, load your grocery cart with the gang of four and yes, while you’re at it, don’t forget artichokes, beans, pecans and prunes–they are not far behind in their antioxidant count.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Don’t let the word “fatty acids” scare you–not all fatty foods are bad. In fact, some fatty foods are downright essential, even necessary for vibrant skin. EFAs contribute to healthy cell membranes and we know that cell membranes hold in water.  The healthier the cell membranes, the better they work at preserving moisture, keeping skin cells  plump and juicy. The enviable ensues:  Radiant  supple skin. But that’s not all they can do, EFAs offer protection against inflammation  and we know that inflammation harms cells. Include fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil in your diet to boost your intake of EFAs.

Healthy Oils

You’ve heard of essential oils to moisturize your skin and now…healthy edible oils can nourish your skin from inside out. Healthy oils contain more than EFAs, the nutrients also keep the skin lubricated.  When shopping for healthy oils, look for cold pressed, expeller processed or extra virgin. They are not heavily processed and do not have solvents added. Extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil are just some examples.

Selenium

Health experts say that selenium play a key role in the health of skin cells.  Selenium facilitates the uptake of nutrients, so it is highly crucial to include selenium in your diet. Turns out that selenium is found in many foods such as whole grain bread or muffins, cereals, turkey, tuna and brazil nuts.

Green Tea

The goodness of green tea is extolled in many researches–from preventing cancer to bad breath.  To add to its bunch of health accolades, it also promotes skin health.  From drinking the tea to using it as a topical application, green tea’s rich supply of catechins, potent antioxidants are good at protecting cell membranes as well as fighting inflammation of the skin. A study in the Archives of Dermatology shows that green tea can even reduce risks of skin cancer.

Water

If cells are 70% water, it goes without saying that water is essential for keeping skin cells hydrated and fresh-looking.  Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water. And don’t tell me your mother didn’t tell you….

So, if you’re looking for skin savers–just load your grocery cart with the right kind of foods.  Nature has not left us defenseless–it has equipped us with a wide arsenal to fight the conspirators of bad skin.

Anthocyanins: The Secret to Goji Berries

My mother used to have tons  of goji berries stashed in her pantry–in plastic containers, in bags and dainty packs of herbal mix.  She used it relentlessly– in soups, in herbal teas and in her main dishes.  She would brew bitter nasty tasting broth, reputedly a magic cure for any kind of ailments and then had to chase us around the kitchen to get us to drink it.

Along with Goji berries was her often repeated health adage, “Eat this, it’s good for your eyes.”  Good for the eyes– seemed absurd when you’re young and your eyes are perfectly good but that didn’t not keep her from pushing her health agenda.

While doing some research on Anthocyanins, I found that my mother knew a thing or two about Goji berries, even if she didn’t know the medical term for it.  It turns out that Goji berries are loaded with Anthoyanins, a potent antioxidant, that also give Goji berries its bright red color.

Anthocyanins are color pigments found in fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Red grapes, pomegranates, eggplants, carrots, peaches, watermelon, guava, grapefruit–to name a few–all these owe their vibrant color to the presence of anthocyanins.  What can anthoyanins do for your health?  For starters, they are supper antioxidants, scavenging the body for free radicals and neutralizing their capacity for cellular damage, thereby reducing risks of cancer. They are also anti-inflammatory agents, fighting against the stresses of aging, improving cardiovascular health and brain function.

Now, back to my mother’s fascination with goji berries.  Scientific researches concur that goji berries are in rich alpha-carotene and zeaxanthin, both anthocyanins. While apha-carotene can be readily converted to Vitamin A and serves as an antioxidant and  an immunity booster, zeaxanthin plays key role in protecting the retina of the eyes.  By absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant for the eyes, zeaxanthin can decrease the risk of age related macular dengeneration, a leading cause of vision problem and blindness in people over 65.

So my mother was right.   Ancient wisdom is seldom wrong–after all, goji berries were used by herbalists in China, Tibet and India for more than 6,000 years.

If she were here today, she would say, “Told you so,” and  you won’t find me  rolling my eyes.

Goji berries can be eaten as a snack–a lot of health stores carry goji berries as a healthy snack, either on its own or in trail mix.  Toss a handful into chicken soup or incorporate them in your main dishes.  Here is a simple stir fry dish:

Goji Chicken

1 thumb of ginger, thinly sliced

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 handful of goji berries

1 stalk of spring onion, cut into 1″ lengths

1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Sautee sliced ginger, garlic and goji berries in a teaspoon of oil until fragrant.

Add sliced chicken, oyster sauce and sautee until cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with green onion.

Want to find out more about Anthocyanins?  Read Anthocyanins:  Colors of Health.