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Foods that make you beautiful

Siski Green / 11 August 2017 ( 19 August 2019 )

You are what you eat, the saying goes. So try these beauty-boosting foods.

Foods such as dark chocolate and blueberries are rich in antioxidants.
Foods such as dark chocolate and blueberries are rich in antioxidants.

From the top of your head down to the tips of your toes, your body’s appearance relates directly to what you eat. Find out how you can give your looks a boost with just a few simple dietary changes.

A light tan can do wonders– but eating carrots could make you look even more attractive.

A light tan can do wonders for your appearance – immediately you look more youthful, fresh, radiant even. But get this, eating carrots daily could make you look even more attractive.

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Research undertaken by researchers from Nottingham University shows that ingesting more carotenoids, the antioxidant that gives carrots and red peppers their colour, actually gives us a healthy ‘glow’ that viewers rate even more positively than a tan.

Understanding antioxidants

The researchers asked study participants to view faces and to adjust the colour levels to make them as attractive as possible – the participants increased the melanin levels slightly (indicating tan) but dramatically increased the levels of carotenoid colour. 

Feed Your Beauty: researchers from St Andrews University found that it takes just 6 weeks of eating two extra portions of vegetables per day to give yourself a vegetable-induced ‘glow’.

Carotenoids aren’t the only antioxidants you should be focused on – others, such as anthocyanin, help to reduce free radicals that cause fine lines and dryness. 

10 wrinkle-busting foods

Feed Your Beauty: a handful of blueberries per day will give you a good anthocyanin boost, as well as vitamin C (see below). 

If you choose foods that are also high in vitamin C, along with carotenoids – such as in red peppers for example, you’ll be giving your skin an even bigger boost. If you check the labels of many beauty products you’ll see vitamin C, and that’s because it’s a helper in producing collagen. Collagen is a kind of protein within your skin, which helps keep your skin looking youthful and firm. When it begins to break down you’ll notice your skin sagging and wrinkling more easily. 

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Healthy blueberry ripple frozen yogurt

Feed your Beauty: Red peppers are an undervalued source of vitamin C with three times more per gram than oranges, but kiwis are the other unsung heroes of the C it, with around 75mg of vitamin C per fruit. Cherries, papaya, tomatoes and, of course, oranges are also good sources. 

In terms of lotions and cosmetics, the go-to products to give you beautiful skin are moisturiser and sunscreen, in terms of foods, your go-to products need to contain lycopene and omega-3.

Lycopene is essential to help protect your skin against the sun’s harmful UVA/B rays. In fact, lycopene may well be one of the best ways to prevent sunburn. Researchers from Newcastle University, and Manchester University, UK, found that study participants who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste per day for 12 weeks showed a 33% increased protection against sunburn.

Discover more foods that may help protect your skin in the sun

What’s more, skin samples taken from the women who took part showed an increase in pro collagen too – this is a molecule that helps keep skin elastic, and prevents sagging. As if all that weren’t enough, they also found less damage to mitochondrial DNA, another factor that can contribute to the visible signs of ageing.

Omega-3 is one of the most important healthy fats that not only helps your body utilise the lycopene but also helps keep skin less dry - because omega-3 fatty acids are one of the components within your skin that form a natural barrier to moisture loss.  

Alternative sources of omega 3 for people who don’t like salmon

Feed your beauty: a simple tomato and avocado salad (one serving of tomatoes and a slice of avocado) will give you what you need, but to up the ante, try to up your intake of more concentrated forms of tomato – tomato paste, home-made ketchup (to avoid the sugar), soup or sundried tomatoes. 

Nibble on dark chocolate, letting it dissolve slowly in your mouth, and not only will you eat less of it (and therefore less sugar), you’ll also give yourself some beautifying flavonoids. These particular antioxidants improve circulation, so will help amp up that glow you’ve achieved with carrots and red peppers, and they’ll also work against sun damage, too. 

Try this chocolate indulgence smoothie

Feed Your Beauty: For a truly guilt-free beautifying food, add plain cacao to a smoothie or your cereal. That will give you the flavonoids without the sugar. Otherwise, opt for 70% cocoa solids chocolate. 

Great skin and hair won’t get you very far in the beauty stakes if your teeth are a mess and there is no better nutrient than calcium to take care of that. The ideal dairy product is live yogurt, as it also contains healthy bacteria to aid digestion, and it’s also a source of zinc (around 1.5mg per 150g serving) which is essential for reducing redness in your skin. 

Discover the foods that can help whiten your teeth

Feed your beauty: Add one 150g pot of natural yogurt to your breakfast each day and you’ll get more than a third of your daily calcium recommendation (currently around 700mg per day unless your GP advises otherwise) plus around 20% of your zinc. 

If there was a multipurpose food to tick all your beauty boxes, it would have to be oats. They contain healthy fats for your skin, polyphenols that work as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants minimising damage and redness, as well as saponins with antibacterial properties. 

Feed your beauty: Add oats to smoothies, or soups, make low-sugar flapjacks with them or even use them on your skin. If you boil and mash oats you’ll find they help reduce redness and keep moisture in effectively. Leave the mixture on your face for no more than 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off with warm water, gently patting it dry. 

Try this recipe for vegan blueberry and oat pancakes

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.