While you can find plenty of recipes for skin-related, food-based home remedies -- banana masks and oatmeal scrubs, to name two -- topical use is just one way to access the health and beauty benefits of products you can keep in your cupboard. Nature has provided a variety of foods that can help to give you great skin by working from the inside out. Incorporate these delicious goodies into your diet and watch your skin lose wrinkles and gain glow.
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Walnuts are packed with the elusive and important omega-3 fatty acids. Among their many benefits for the body, they help protect against damage from ultraviolet radiation -- think of them as a natural sunscreen you can eat. Other nuts, such as almonds, are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
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Avocado is a time-honored ingredient in homemade facial masks, but it does its good work for your skin when you eat it, too. Avocado is an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps the skin repair itself. Its fat and liquid content also helps to keep your skin moisturized and supple.
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Salmon is another food filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against sun damage and also reduce inflammation in general. Other fatty fish, such as sardines and mackerel, are also good sources of omega-3.
Blueberries have been touted as a "superfood" thanks to their abundant nutritional value. For one thing, they are packed with antioxidants -- notably, vitamins C and E. Antioxidants protect the tissues in your body and help repair damage. Other berries, including blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, are also rich in skin-friendly nutrients.
Flax seed is often recommended for the boost in dietary fiber it provides, but it's also a great source of those valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, flax seed contains compounds known as lignans, which also act as antioxidants.
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Sweet potato's orange color gives away its secret nutritional benefit -- it's loaded with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. In fact, beta-carotene is closely related to retinol, the anti-aging compound found in fancy facial products.
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A 2006 study by German scientists published in "The Journal of Nutrition" showed that not only is chocolate full of compounds called flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants, but that women who eat dark chocolate regularly have better skin texture, less redness and better skin hydration than those studied who didn't.
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Spinach is packed with all sorts of anti-aging antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E. This lovely leafy green is also a strong source of a variety of minerals, such as magnesium, which help heal wounds and other skin damage. The high water content in spinach also helps to keep your skin hydrated. Other dark leafy, greens, too, have similar skin-supportive nutritional profiles.
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While tomatoes, like many foods, are rife with antioxidants such as vitamin C, there's one antioxidant in particular that stands out -- lycopene. Lycopene is the compound that provides tomatoes with its red color; among its many health benefits, it offers powerful protection against the skin-aging effects of certain free radicals. Cooking tomatoes helps the body absorb lycopene.
Green tea contains two classes of antioxidants known as polyphenols and catechins. These antioxidants may help protect the green-tea lover from skin cancer and assist in the preservation of skin elasticity.