Naturally beautiful

Blackmores
Monday, April 27, 2009
Image: Getty
Ten foods for radiant skin, strong nails and luscious locks by nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan Price.

1. Salmon
Oily fish — such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and trout — are fabulously rich in essential omega-3 fats. These reduce inflammation and provide essential nourishment for the skin. To benefit from oily fish, you have to eat it at least twice a week.

I also recommend taking an additional daily omega-3 supplement to reach optimal levels. If you suffer from eczema or psoriasis, you should probably up the dose — there is reputable scientific backing to show it can help. Oily fish are one of the few good sources vitamin D, essential for the absorption of calcium to build strong nails.

2. Dark green leafy vegies
These are a daily must for maximum anti-ageing power. The darker the green, the better — because this usually indicates higher levels of antioxidants. These fight free radicals which damage cells and accelerate ageing of the skin.

Beta-carotene, one of these antioxidants, can also form vitamin A in the body, a common ingredient in face creams and an essential nutrient for healthy hair.

Feed your skin from the inside out by including leafy greens daily and watch your complexion bloom. Spinach, silverbeet, kale, rocket, watercress, Asian greens and dark-green cabbage varieties all qualify.

3. Mussels and oysters
High in protein, these molluscs are a good sources of omega-3 fats and the clear frontrunners in providing zinc, a mineral essential for skin healing and preventing infections. Increased zinc can help acne and other skin conditions, but is also essential for all of us to maintain healthy radiant skin. If you are plagued with dandruff, upping your zinc just might help.

4. Berries
They look delectable, taste divine and they top the charts for antioxidant power. What's not to like about berries? They're also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant helpful for combating the ageing process. Vitamin C is necessary for the building of collagen, the protein that gives skin its elasticity and strengthens capillaries to help reduce spider veins and easy bruising.

5. Nuts and seeds
They provide all the right kinds of fat that nourish our skin and promote shiny healthy hair. They are rich in the antioxidant vitamin E which helps combat free-radical damage — free radicals contributes to the skin's ageing.

6. Carrots
This humble vegie is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, which acts as both an antioxidant and which can be made into vitamin A to help repair and maintain healthy skin.

7. Tea
Different teas contain different antioxidants, but they all have the potential for anti-ageing benefits. Green tea has even been shown to help rejuvenate skin cells. Tannins in tea can reduce your absorption minerals in food, however, so try to drink your tea between rather than with meals.

8. Barley
Australian research has shown that a low-GI diet containing whole grains such as barley helps to relieve acne and improve skin. Barley provides the antioxidant mineral selenium as well as good levels of several other vitamins and minerals that play roles in the growth of healthy skin, hair and nails.

9. Avocado
Arguably the most nutritious food, avocados provide all the right kinds of fat to nourish your skin. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals and several antioxidants that help to protect your skin from ageing free-radical and sun damage.

10. Kiwifruit
We tend to think of citrus fruit as being the best sources of vitamin C, but in fact the plentiful kiwifruit ranks second only to the more elusive guava. So go green and hairy for extra collagen-boosting vitamin C.

Dr Joanna McMillan Price is a nutritionist, writer and media presenter. This extract is from her new book, Inner Health, Outer Beauty, published by Random House, RRP $34.95.

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