I met nutritionist Juliette Reeves at the Slendertone Face day. Turns out she lives just a few minutes away from my parents in Peterborough! She very kindly shared with us her top foods to anti-age the skin. There were 10, however, one of them was a soy food – edamame beans – and I am strongly anti any soy products for health reasons and environmental reasons, but that’s a whole other post in itself. So, there are only nine anti-ageing foods here instead of ten, but trust me you’ll live longer cutting out the 10th!
1. Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin C and carotenes. The darker or more vivid the colours, the richer the antioxidant content. Berries with their fantastic array of blue, black and red pigments are packed with anti ageing nutrients and phytonutrients that protect the skin from the damaging effects of excess sun exposure and free radicals. Concentrate on blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. Try sprinkling them onto wholegrain breakfast cereal or porridge and mixing them into yoghurt for a healthy start to the day.
2. Sweet potato: These are a great source of Vitamin C and Beta carotene which protects the skin from UV damage. Beta carotene gives sweet potato its bright orange colour and it is converted into Vitamin A, an antioxidant that is particularly useful for protecting the skin, eyes and bones. Look out for butternut squash, mango, papaya, carrots and pumpkin. The beta carotene content is best released after cooking making them great for baking, mashing and soup making.
3. Beetroot Tops: These beautiful dark green leaves with the deep red stalk running through are rich in folate, magnesium and zinc, which are all needed to preserve healthy telomere length. They also act as antioxidants and fight the ageing effects of DNA damage to our skin and other cells in the body. They contain essential vitamins and minerals for healthy hair, nails and bones. Other leafy green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, rocket, lambs lettuce, spring greens and savoy cabbage. Try eating them raw as part of a salad every day.
4. Walnuts: Nuts are great sources of healthy fats and minerals promoting smooth skin and wrinkle protection. Nuts are a rich source of essential fatty acids and offer health benefits similar to olive oil. Walnuts are particularly rich in Omega 3 fats, the kind of fats found in oily fish. These fats cannot be made by the body and must come from the diet. Eating a handful of walnuts can give almost 95% of our daily needs. Mix them with other nuts such as almonds, brazils and hazelnuts. Lightly toasted they make a great snack or topping for salads, breakfast cereals or fresh fruit.
5. Flax Seeds: Seeds are also a rich source of healthy fats and flaxseeds contain the correct proportion of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats. These two fatty acid families are important in reducing the levels of unwanted inflammatory messengers in the bloodstream thereby reducing the risk of certain cancers including skin cancer. The minerals contained in flaxseeds also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by increasing the bond strength in the collagen layers of the skin. Other healthy seeds include pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and hemp seeds. Try toasting them with a healthy nut mix for salads and other toppings.
We were served yummy flax seed muffins at the Slendertone Face day!
6. Avocados: Avocados are a great all-round food they are packed with some great nutrients that help to repair and maintain healthy skin. The healthy fats in avocados make the calorie count quite high, however, these fats are burned up quickly and are not the type of fats that make you fat. The healthy fats in avocados can actually reduce the bad fats such as cholesterol whilst increasing the good fats. They are rich in folate, antioxidants, key minerals and essential fatty acids. Try them chopped into salads, mixed into dips or simply eaten out of the skin as a snack!
Avocado served with Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato, Radish and drizzled Olive Oil.
These Avocado Crepes were very interesting – I’ll have to dig out the recipe to share!
7. Salmon: Another rich source of Omega 3 fats, salmon along with other oily fish helps keep our skin young looking and prevent skin cancer and DNA damage. EPA found in oily fish has also been shown to preserve collagen fibre which keeps the skin firm, smooth and flexible. In combination with DHA oil found in salmon, it helps to prevent skin cancer and reduce unwanted inflammation in the body, while the Vitamin D found in oily fish also boosts the immune system and prevents free radical damage. Other rich sources include tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring. Try eating them with fresh fruits such as orange, mandarin or mango in a large green salad.
8. Chocolate: Cocoa contains another flavonoid called epicatechin and scientific studies have shown that this compound can increase blood flow to the skin, boosting oxygen and nutrient supply. It is the sugar and fat content contained in chocolate that can have a negative effect on the skin making blood flow sluggish and congesting the pores. Good quality chocolate, however, with a high cocoa content when eaten in moderation can have positive effects on circulation and skin and heart health. Other foods rich in epicatechin include tea and red wine.
9. Green Tea: All green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant. It is high in antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E and also contains significant amounts of B Vitamins including B1, B2, B12, B3 all of which are essential to healthy skin and nails. The catechins (a type of tannin) have antioxidant properties and the polyphenols in green tea help to block the growth of skin cancer cells.
Juliette Reeves concludes “What we eat can protect our skin from sun damage, ageing and wrinkles. By contrast refined foods that contain white flour, sugar and saturated fats can increase free radical damage to our skin cells. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats will offset the daily wear and tear our skin receives, and eating a diet with lots of different colours will make sure we are getting plenty of antioxidants and other protective nutrients. Many of the foods that boost our immune system preventing infection and disease also protect us from skin cancer and help keep skin looking smoother, younger and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.”