You eat a steady diet of fruits and veggies so you must be getting the most possible beauty benefits, right? Not so fast. Congrats on your healthy eating routine (your body will thank you later!), but there’s even more you can do to increase the prettying powers of your food. When it comes to beauty and wellness, it’s not only what you eat, but how you eat and prepare food, says Jim Perko, Executive Chef at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Here are twelve expert secrets to maximize the beautifying effect of food:
Pair healthy fats with veggies… “Small amounts of good fats, like those found in olive oil, avocados and nuts, help the body absorb antioxidants and other essential nutrients found in vegetables,” says Janel Ovrut Funk, R.D., author of the “Eat Well With Janel” blog. So, instead of drenching your salad with a processed, fat-free dressing, drizzle a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle some walnuts on your greens to increase the absorption of necessary nutrients. “Healthy fats also provide beauty boosting vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin E which helps to moisturize your skin,” says Funk.
…especially sweet potatoes. Beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, is better absorbed with a little bit of healthy fat, says Samantha Heller, R.D., exercise physiologist and author of “Get Smart: Samantha Heller’s Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health.” In the body, beta-carotene turns into vitamin A, which is great for both your skin and your eyes.
Buy Local. Whenever possible, get your fruits and veggies from produce stands or farmers markets. “Studies have found that some produce loses nutrients the longer it sits on the shelf,” says Toth. Sourcing your fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market will help guarantee they're still jam-packed with beauty-boosting vitamins and minerals when you eat. An added bonus: Fresh produce tastes delicious and you'll feel good supporting your local economy.
Get strategic with C. The iron in plants is not readily absorbed in the body, so it needs help from vitamin C, explains Funk. By adding C-rich foods like citrus fruits, broccoli and bell peppers to your diet, you’ll help increase the absorption of iron, which is important for overall energy. For example, try a spinach salad with grapefruit wedges or sautéed kale with bell peppers. Added bonus of getting more C: “it helps to promote collagen production, keeping your skin looking supple and fresh,” says Funk.
Chew Longer. When you eat cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, chewing them longer will break down the food, allowing your body to better absorb the nutrients, says Perko. So, make sure you chew plants well instead of swallowing after just a few quick bites. These crunchy veggies are extra important when it comes to longer chewing because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so you’ll want to get as much out of them as you can. “Chewing your food thoroughly will make more compounds available to your body,” agrees Heller.
Add avocado to everything, especially salads. This green superfood has serious skin benefits on it’s own due to the high omega-3 content, says Lindsey Toth, R.D., author of the “Fresh Squeezed Nutrition” blog. But, it’s also been found to help your body absorb protective phytochemicals like lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from dark green vegetables when eaten together. “Throw together a spinach salad topped with cherry tomatoes and avocado, and then add broccoli and strawberries for a triple beautification whammy!”
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