Superfoods: Eating for Health and Beauty
We’ve all heard the expression: You are what you eat. Well, it’s absolutely true. What we put into our bodies is greatly reflected in how we look, and more importantly in how we feel. Think about how you feel after eating a very heavy meal, perhaps around the holidays or after a late night out. Probably not so awesome, right? This internal discomfort also shows up outwardly in the form of dull skin, heavy looking eyes, acne, and a sallow complexion. Of course in the moment that second helping of French fries tastes great, but is it really worth feeling bloated and looking less than radiant afterwards? The good news is that by avoiding processed foods and eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, you can improve both your health and your appearance. And even better yet, a healthy diet can taste delicious and also pack a serious health and skin boosting punch! We’ve put together a list of super foods we love to make it easy.
Certain foods can be powerful weapons in the war against aging, sun damage, and other skin and general health conditions. Although there is no legal definition, often these foods are referred to as “Superfoods,” or as The Oxford Dictionary definition states: “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being." Superfoods contain large amounts of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, which may help reduce the risk of chronic disease, prolong life expectancy and manage weight through increased digestion. In regards to your skin, superfoods deliver key nutrients to help keep you blemish free, youthful and radiant. They can aid in reducing the appearance and depth of wrinkles, hydrating the skin, minimizing pores, protecting against the damaging effects of UV rays and increasing collagen production, amongst a myriad of other good deeds. Below are our favorite 7 superfoods and scrumptious ways to prepare them.
Superfood List & Benefits
Blueberries – All types of berries are packed full of important plant nutrients, but blueberries are at the top of the list – literally. The USDA’s Oxygen Radical Absorbance Test (yes, there really is such a thing!) ranks blueberries #1 in antioxidant and phytoflavinoid activity. Anthocyanins are the specific antioxidant compounds at work in these delish superstars. These are not only responsible for the rich blue color of the berry, but also for their anti-inflammatory and collagen protecting abilities as well. Reducing inflammation and increasing collagen production are two of the top most beneficial internal processes for the outward appearance of your skin. As if you needed more of a reason to gobble them up, blueberries are super easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Try adding them to yogurt, cereal or a smoothie (see all star superfood smoothie recipe below) for breakfast, or just enjoy as a between-meal snack. Frozen blueberries also make a great alternative to heavy ice cream on a hot summer night.
All Star Superfood Smoothie Recipe:
- 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
- ½ ripe banana (fresh or frozen)
- ¾ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ cup spinach
- 1 tsp raw cacao powder
- A few ice cubes
- Dash of sea salt
- Mix it all up in a blender until smooth and enjoy!
Wild Salmon – The importance of Omega 3 fatty acids and their contribution to skin health cannot be overstated, and wild salmon is a great source of them. Plus, this fish is absolutely delicious. Adequate consumption of Omega 3’s can improve the look and feel of skin, help repair environmental damage, keep toxins out of skin, and reduce fine lines. In addition, salmon is rich in vitamins D and E and selenium, all of which have skin and anti-aging benefits.
Wild salmon may not be the least expensive choice for a mid-week dinner, but it is high quality protein and easy to prepare. While shopping for salmon, be sure to choose “wild” over “farm-raised” varieties. This is key for several reasons. First of all wild salmon contains denser nutrient content than farm-raised. It also has 131 less calories on average and about half the saturated fat (that is the type of fat you don’t want!) Second, Persistent Organic Pollutant levels (POPs for short) are ten times higher in farm-raised salmon than in wild. POPs have been linked to diabetes, obesity, and risk of stroke in women. Lastly, farm-raised salmon swim in water that is more polluted than wild. Of course this is no fun for the fish themselves, but it also translates into exposing the consumer (you) to cancer-causing chemicals, antibiotics, and other unsafe contaminants. The bottom line is that even though wild salmon may cost a few dollars more, it is most certainly worth the price. For a super simple yet delicious dinner choice, try this easy recipe below:
Baked Wild Salmon
Wild salmon fillet
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place cleaned salmon fillet on a sheet of tin foil. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Bake salmon for 15 minutes or until tender. Enjoy with a spinach salad (recipe below).
Spinach – Spinach is another great source of Omega 3’s, as well as vitamins B, C, E, potassium, folate, calcium, iron, lutein and magnesium. Actually, almost all dark leafy greens count as superfoods, including trendy kale. Their high anti-oxidant content can work to provide protection from UV damage, and slow the signs of aging. (That’s not to say you can skip the sunscreen, though!) Additionally, there is strong evidence that consuming spinach protects the body against cancer via their high folate concentration. Folate helps to repair and maintain DNA, bolstering cells' ability to renew themselves and therefore reduce the likelihood of cancer growth. Spinach also contains a high percentage of water to aid in hydration, making for plumper skin and reduction of fine lines. Spinach salad for lunch, anyone?
Basic Spinach Salad
One large bunch of spinach (preferably organic)
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1tbsp amino acids or tamari
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Suggested additions: sliced cucumber, mushrooms, bell pepper, avocado, cherry tomatoes, raw pumpkin seeds, walnuts, kalamata olives, feta cheese
In a large bowl place washed spinach and any other additions you desire. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar and amino acids or tamari. Toss until dressing fully coats salad, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Yum!
Tomatoes - Tomatoes are the ultimate source of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene. This powerful antioxidant compound, found in most red and pink vegetables, helps fend off skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. Interestingly, these potent antioxidants are more available to the body in cooked form rather than raw. Now is the perfect time of year to make up a batch of homemade tomato sauce! Who knew superfood nutrition could be so tasty?
Tangy Tomato Sauce
1 ½ lbs beefsteak tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove chopped garlic
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp pepper
In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese and add any extra salt or pepper to taste. Sauce can be served over cooked pasta or sautéed vegetables for a quick and tasty mid week meal!
Dark Chocolate – Contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not cause or exacerbate acne. In reality, the antioxidants in cacao and dark chocolate – called flavinols – improve skin circulation and texture and reduce sun damage. Of course, this doesn’t give us the green light to eat loads of chocolate every day! Also, to be effective, look for pure dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. You can also buy raw cacao bits or powder (we recommend this in smoothies-see recipe under “Blueberries”). Although we’d all love to eat more, an ounce or two a day is all you need. Eating smaller amounts will also help to satisfy that sweet craving, and keep you from binge eating chocolate on other occasions. Our favorite brands include: Pascha 85% Cacao Organic and Fair Trade bars and Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Powder. When it comes to superfood snacks, what could beat this?
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are naturally high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, and loaded with vitamin C. We’ve talked about the importance of vitamin C as a topical skin care agent, but it’s also a necessity to eat a diet rich in this vital nutrient to fully absorb the effects. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium, which helps push excess sodium out of the body. If puffy eyes in the morning are a problem, try increasing your potassium intake with this delicious tuber. With fall on the way, it is an ideal time to break out the stew and soup recipes. We love this basic yet divine sweet potato soup:
Sweet Potato Soup
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in ¾ inch chunks
- 1 apple (granny smith or pink lady) peeled and chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- Additions: Blue cheese, walnuts, extra sliced apple, crackers
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sweet potatoes, chopped apple, broth, nutmeg and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, for about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, adding more water as necessary. Serve with any additions you desire. MMmmmm!
Green Tea – Next to water, green tea may be the most healthful beverage you can consume. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols which can counteract sun damage, and help to prevent future damage from ultraviolet rays as well. A 2009 Stanford University study showed that consuming the polyphenols in two cups of green tea daily generated significant improvement in sun damage, redness, and broken capillaries among the participants. Always go for fresh brewed, though. Bottled brands have been shown to contain as little as one fiftieth of the polyphenols found in fresh, hot brewed green tea and often are loaded with extra sugar. Cozy up with a cup (or two!)of the pure stuff today.
While consuming superfoods is highly beneficial for both your body and you skin, using products that contain extracts and oils from these nourishing heavyweights can be equally helpful in maintaining your glow. At OZ Naturals, we always source our products from nature, utilizing the immense power of the best natural raw ingredients to give your skin the nutrients it needs to look and feel its best. You can enjoy the benefits of superfood extracts in our products such as green tea, blueberries, sea kelp, Spirulina, rose hips and more.
It’s never too late to incorporate nutritional super foods as a main part of your daily diet and skin care routine…so get inspired, purchase superfoods online, and add more of these beauty-boosting foods to your menu. Your skin and body will be very thankful that you did. Bon appetit!
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals