“I wake up every morning looking older than the day before!” is a common refrain among adults over the age of 21. Despite living fairly healthy lives—not smoking, avoiding too much sun, getting enough sleep, and taking time to relax and let go of her stress—there’s almost no way to evade the effects of time on your body. But these healthy habits are only part of the equation when it comes to keeping your appearance youthful.
The right diet can do more than just lead to weight loss. It can turn back the hands of time, as well. If finding eternal youth is on your to-do list, try adding these healthy foods that target the biggest beauty issues, from greying hair to dark circles, to your daily diet. And if you’ve heard the rumors about collagen’s impact on skin health, why don’t you check out What is Hydrolyzed Collagen and Can It Really Help You Look Younger?
Grey hair is beautiful when it’s age-appropriate but unfair for folks who start to salt-and-pepper before they’ve finished life’s main course. One cause of early greying: a lack of copper. A study in the journal Biological Trace Elemental Research found premature-graying individuals had significantly lower copper levels than a control group. Your body requires copper to produce pigment for your skin and hair, and shiitake mushrooms are one of the best dietary sources. Just a half-cup provides 72 percent of your recommended daily intake of copper—and for only 40 calories!
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A study in the Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour showed eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives a healthier, and more attractive, golden glow than the sun. Researchers found people who ate more portions of red and orange fruits and vegetables per day had a more sun-kissed complexion than those who didn’t consume as much—the result of disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids that give those plants their colors. And get this: given the choice between a real suntan and a glow caused by diet, study participants preferred the carotenoid complexion. Few foods are as rich in the beauty stuff than sweet potatoes; just half a medium sweet potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended intake.
Good news, politicians: Cheesy smiles may be good for you. One study in the journal General Dentistry of people who didn’t brush their teeth for 48 hours (don’t try that at home), found snacking on cheddar cheese raised their mouths’ pH to freshly-brushed levels. (Like cavities, discoloration is increased when you have an acidic environment in your mouth.) Plus, compounds in the cheese that adhere to tooth enamel, like a white strip, help to fend off acid.
Puffy, dark circles under the eyes may indicate you had too much fun the night before, but it can also indicate another more common, less exciting issue: dehydration. Salty foods, alcohol, exercise, hot weather and just plain not drinking enough water can create inflammation, which results in the Rocket Raccoon complexion. Start replenishing your body right away: Cut up some citrus fruits (rind included) and soak them in a pitcher of ice water. Now drink copiously.
Weekly manicures can keep your nails in tip-top shape, but so can Sunday’s top round roast dinner. Researches say a diet rich in protein, iron and zinc are the key to long, strong, beautiful nails. And you’ll get a healthy serving of all three nutrients from a small portion of lean red meat. A recent study in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology that looked at nail growth over the past 70 years found that dietary protein was the difference between spurts and lags in nail growth. It’s perhaps no wonder, considering nails are made from protein—keratin, specifically. Nail it with a small 3-4 ounce portion of top round or sirloin, which are the leanest cuts of red meat, one to two times a week.
No, you don’t rub it into your scalp like Rogaine. But almond butter is one food that contains a wide variety of nutrients—including protein, healthy fats, and certain vitamins—that have all been linked to hair health. It’s the vitamin E content in the nuts that researchers say is particularly good for keeping your locks thick and lustrous. One eight-month trial found men who supplemented daily with vitamin E saw an increase in hair growth by as much as 42 percent. Just a tablespoon of almond butter provides more than 25% DV for fat-soluble vitamin E.
New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean—where going topless on the beach is all part of the summertime fun—has to do with the Mediterranean diet. Foods high in antioxidants, particularly deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight the oxidizing effect of UV rays. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology found participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste (a highly concentrated form of fresh tomatoes) daily showed 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group. And tomatoes work double duty to boost beauty: While the carotenoids and antioxidants help the body fight off oxidation that ages skin cells, they also boost pro-collagen—a molecule that gives skin its taut, youthful structure. For more ways to keep your skin looking fresh and blemish-free, load up on these 19 Foods To Eat Every Day to Keep You Looking Young.