11/08/2019 Mind-Body Health
The skin is the largest organ in your body, and even though skin is on your outside, what you put inside your body affects its ability to protect you and look radiant. Feed yourself well and your skin will thank you.
What you feed your body directly affects the health of your skin. For example, you may have noticed that you look puffy after consuming too much sugar or red wine. Conversely, when you eat a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole foods, you likely wake up feeling and looking more radiant.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body; its healthy glow can reflect the health of your whole self. Along with skin-nourishing beauty products and luxurious facials, what you eat has a dramatic impact on the vitality, radiance, and glow of your skin.
Try these skin-nourishing superfoods and enjoy your getting your healthy glow on—from the inside out.
Walnuts, like many other nuts rich in healthy fats, provide a satiating and skin-healthy snack. Walnuts are a wonderful source of omega-3 oils (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid).
Healthy fats, specifically the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, benefit your skin health for a number of reasons. Research shows that high doses of omega-3 fatty acids can improve symptoms of psoriasis (with a higher-than-typical dose of 3.6–14 grams daily), may protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation injury (sun damage), and can also help to reduce the severity of inflammatory acne. Recent research has found that omega-3 fatty acids may also help to decrease the occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer.
How to enjoy: Walnuts are tasty raw or roasted as an on-the-go snack. They are also a great addition to any salad or warm breakfast grain. Try a dollop of walnut butter spread on a slice of apple. You can also use walnuts to replace the pine nuts in most pesto recipes. Try the walnut mushroom “meat-less” balls below for a fun omega-3–rich spin on a traditional meatball.
Walnut Mushroom “Meat-Less” Balls
This delicious protein- and fat-rich plant-based recipe will provide you with a number of beneficial nutrients and satiating fats to nourish your body and support your skin health.
- 2 cups walnuts
- 4 medium-sized portabella mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2–3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup parsley
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
- Dash black pepper
Chop the mushrooms into chunks and coat with olive oil and balsamic. Roast for 20 minutes at 350 degrees (F) until lightly cooked. Add the remaining ingredients into the food processor, along with the cooked mushrooms. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add salt as necessary.
With a tablespoon, scoop out the mushroom/walnut paste and form into balls or patties. The balls take a bit more care to cook, while the patties are a bit easier to flip.
- For the balls, sear on two sides on the stovetop in avocado or coconut oil until brown, and then place the pan into the oven to bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20–30 minutes.
- For the patties, cook on medium for 10 minutes per side on the stovetop.
Serve over zoodles or cauliflower gnocchi with your favorite tomato sauce, or enjoy a patty over a salad or bowl of steamed veggies.
You may associate avocados with a yummy bowl of homemade guacamole dip or trendy avocado toast—slathered on a piece of toasted sourdough—but did you know that avocado is also a superfood for your skin?
Avocado is a great source of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), antioxidants, and vitamin E, making it a helpful food to include in your diet for optimal skin health. One study found that the participants who consumed greater amounts of the healthy fats contained in avocado had significantly increased skin elasticity. The same study found that a greater intake of green and yellow vegetables was significantly associated with fewer wrinkles—another reason to enjoy the creamy green avocado. Research also suggests that the highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants found in avocado can help to protect the skin from damage from UV radiation and visible radiation.
How to enjoy: Add half an avocado to your morning smoothie for an extra dose of healthy fats, try avocado chopped on top of your favorite salad, or make it into a healthy and naturally sweet chocolate pudding (see recipe below) for an upgrade from the more traditional sugary-sweet dessert pudding.
You may not have thought to pair avocado with raw chocolate (cacao), but this dynamic duo makes for a tasty dessert full of good fats and antioxidants. Avocado takes on the flavor of the rich chocolate while providing a silky-smooth pudding that you are sure to love.
- 4 avocados (halved and pitted)
- 1/2 cup raw cacao
- 1/2 cup dates (pitted and soaked for two hours)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy. Chill, stir, and serve.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another superfood for your skin. This versatile oil can be used topically as a moisturizer to help protect the skin from UV radiation. Research has found limited but consistent evidence that topical coconut oil can also help to prevent and treat atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that causes the skin to become red and itchy.
Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit your skin and overall health, inside and out. It is antibacterial and antimicrobial, making it a wonderful health-promoting addition to both your menu and your bathroom medicine cabinet.
How to enjoy: Coconut oil is tasty when used in cooking and is stable to light and low heat. Put a dollop of coconut oil in your morning smoothie to add a smooth texture, flavor, and healthy fat. Apply coconut oil to your skin for extra hydration and moisture.
Coconut Cacao Bites
This quick and easy no-bake recipe will give you a healthy dose of coconut, coconut oil, and coconut milk along with a little chocolate. If you thought life couldn’t get any tastier, these little bites will surely change your mind.
Ingredients for Coconut Cream Layer:
- 4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
Ingredients for Chocolate Layer (Top)
- 1.5 cup 70 percent cacao chocolate bar
- 1/3 cup coconut cream
- Pinch of salt
Use a non-stick eight-by-eight inch pan (or a pan of similar size). Mix the ingredients from the coconut layer and pour it into the base of the pan. Press down and spread smooth with a spatula, creating an even foundation. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Melt chocolate, coconut cream and salt in a double boiler or microwave, making sure to stir and to not overcook. Remove from heat as soon as melted. Remove pan from the freezer. Spread a chocolate layer on top of the coconut base layer until even. Sprinkle top with shredded coconut. Freeze for one hour. Cut into squares. Refreeze or refrigerate with a lid or covering.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Part of the Brassicaceae (cruciferous vegetable) family—along with cabbage, kale, broccoli, radish, and cauliflower—Brussels sprouts are a powerhouse green vegetable and cool-weather crop.
Brussels sprouts—often called baby cabbage—are a helpful ingredient for your skin health. They are rich in nutrients, including high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C, which are both crucial antioxidants for skin health.
How to enjoy: Try Brussels sprouts lightly steamed in vegetable broth, sea salt, and pepper; or roast with a little olive oil and sea salt until lightly crisp and top with a balsamic glaze (see recipe below). For a raw variation, shave them thinly into your favorite coleslaw.
Balsamic-Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Try this delicious fall roasted fare with Brussels sprouts, toasted pine nuts, and a light balsamic glaze. This is a perfect side dish for a tasty and cozy fall meal.
- 5 cups fresh Brussels sprouts (de-stemmed and halved)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup toasted pine nuts
- Dash Himalayan sea salt
- Dash black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F). Toss the Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in chopped garlic. With a slotted spoon, place into a roasting pan and roast for approximately 20–30 min (until desired crispness).
While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, pour the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once balsamic vinegar comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Place pine nuts into a cast-iron skillet on medium-high and shimmy (while watching) until golden brown.
Place Brussels sprouts into a serving dish. Toss with balsamic glaze and toasted pine nuts and serve.
Blueberries are sweet little berries that are so tasty that they are often referred to as nature’s candy. They are also phenomenal food to include in your skin-health regimen. Blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants, the protective compounds that halt or slow down cellular damage, supporting your skin health and overall well-being. Similar to Brussels sprouts, blueberries are rich in a variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin A, which are particularly beneficial for skin health.
Blueberries are also rich in anthocyanins, a bioactive compound that research has found can help to decrease inflammation and protect the collagen in your skin.
How to enjoy: Try fresh blueberries as is, or warm gently with a splash of water for a tasty warm dessert. Try them mixed into a chia pudding (see recipe below) or add into your favorite green smoothie for a sweet and tart flavor.
Blueberry Walnut Chia Pudding
This tasty and nutritious breakfast pudding is packed full of antioxidants, healthy omega-3 fats, and plant-based protein. Try it as a grab-and-go breakfast on busy mornings, or as a dessert pudding that is naturally sweet and delicious.
- 1 1/2 cups milk of choice
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup fresh or frozen and warmed blueberries
- 3 tablespoons walnuts (raw or roasted)
- 1–2 tablespoons raw honey
In a small ball jar, add milk of choice, chia seeds, and raw honey. Whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, top with fresh or gently warmed blueberries, and walnuts. Feel free to add more of your favorite toppings such as nut butter, hemp seeds, or shredded coconut.
There are many nutritious foods to support your skin health and radiance. The best part is that eating for skin health is also simple and delicious. Explore the many options here (and beyond) to nurture your skin and total well-being.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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