By Hanna Grinaker
Just like you and the rest of the world, I love food. But I like it even more if it is providing me with some kind of health benefit. Even if that health benefit is just to make me smile, or have beautiful glowing skin.
Our skin is one of the most powerful indicators of health. Wrinkles, dry or oily skin, acne and inflammation are all signs of poor internal health. They are also side effects that no amount of money spent on fancy skin care products can fix. Instead, focusing on whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals lays the foundation for healthy, young-looking skin.
1. Salmon or other fatty fish: Salmon is extremely high in omega-3s, an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids must be obtained in the diet because the body cannot produce its own essential fats. These fats are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall flexibility. I roast salmon filets in the oven (sometimes on a cedar plank to enhance the flavor) and try to do this 2-3 times a week.
2. Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which is highly effective at reducing free radical damage. Free radicals form in the body when we are over-exposed to sun and pollution, and these nasty buggers can cause wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. For that matter, I try to eat oranges, grapefruits or sliced bell peppers for snacks, all plentiful in vitamin C.
3. Avocados: Is there anything better than the rich, buttery taste of a perfectly ripe avocado? I think not. In fact, I often just cut one in half, sprinkle on some coarse sea salt and go to town on it with a spoon. But besides their incredible taste, avocados are rich in vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that can reduce the effects of sun exposure and hydrate dry, rough skin.
4. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin, and can actually offset the appearance of a dry, flaky complexion. I cube sweet potatoes (skin and all), drizzle with olive oil and rosemary and roast them in the oven for a delicious, vitamin-A filled accompaniment to dinner.
5. Eggs: Eggs, in any form, are delicious and one of those foods that can be eaten at any time of the day. Not only are they incredibly satiating, they are full of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is required for proper immune function, and can actually control the production of oil in the skin. Those who suffer from acne, especially, can benefit from including more zinc in the diet. Move out of the way, Neutrogena!
You really are what you eat, and since we can’t really serve ourselves up some Blake Lively on a platter, we might as well go the more natural route to achieve that beautiful, health, glow we all yearn for!
Hannah Grinaker is dedicated to fitness, health and, of course, food. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota and pursues an undergrad degree (her third) in dietetics and a masters degree in health at North Dakota State University. She is a soon-to-be-registered dietician and a lifelong-registered redhead. You can reach Hannah through her blog at http://www.fitgingersnap.com.