Make your skin glow with Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidants can enhance the appearance and health of our skin. The best way to get antioxidants is in our food. Antioxidant supplements should only be used with advice from a health care practitioner. It’s important to store antioxidant-rich foods properly to prevent oxidation. Antioxidants are used in anti-aging skin care products to brighten skin, and improve its texture and resilience.
Brighter, Younger, Healthier Looking Skin
Who doesn’t want a glowing complexion? It’s on every woman’s wish list. While we may not be able to turn back the hands of time, we can make the most of the skin we have by eating a diet that’s filled with antioxidant-rich foods.
Which antioxidants are most important for our skin?
There are hundreds of chemicals that act as antioxidants but those upon which our skin primarily depends include beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are the chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their lovely, vibrant colours.
When we eat colourful fruits and veggies, the beta-carotene they contain is converted into provitamin A (retinol). Vitamin A helps our skin to handle environmental stresses including UV light and pollution. It also helps to facilitate the skin’s processes, including sebum (oil) production, pigmentation and wound healing.
Good sources of Beta-carotene
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as apricots, peaches and oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes and squashes are packed with beta-carotene. So are leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and dark Romaine lettuce.
Should we use Vitamin A Supplements?
Vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means it can be stored in the liver and in the body’s fat cells for a long time. While it’s almost impossible to overdose on vitamin A through food alone, vitamin A supplements can lead to toxicity. Especially dangerous are megadoses of vitamin supplements. Unless you are advised by your health care practitioner to supplement vitamin A, don’t do it.
Vitamin C to the Rescue!
In 1747, a sailing ship left England; within two months its sailors were literally falling apart. Their limbs and bodies were covered in cuts and bruises, their gums were bleeding and their teeth were falling out. They didn’t know it, but they were suffering with scurvy.
A physician, Dr James Lind, who was on the same voyage, hypothesized that diet was the problem. He designed a little experiment, feeding different pairs of men different things. Within six days, he’d made a discovery: The lucky guys who were given a lemon and two oranges each day made dramatic recoveries. From then on, the Royal Navy began provisioning their ships with lemon and lime juice. (Hence, the name”Limeys” for Englishmen, but you probably knew that.)
In those days, no one knew why citrus fruits cured the men. In 1930, Hungarian-born researcher, Albert Szent-Györgyi, identified vitamin C as the active ingredient that cured scurvy, and since then it’s become the most studied vitamin of all.
Vitamin C enables our bodies to efficiently use carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It’s vital to the formation of collagen and elastin, the body’s major building proteins. So, it’s essential to the proper functioning of our skin and our internal organs.
Good sources of Vitamin C
Most of us know that citrus fruits are a major source of vitamin C. But all fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C, and since we only need about 70mg per day, or the amount that would be in an average-sized orange, we can get the minimum we need daily dose from a single serving of fruit or vege.
Supplementing Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means we excrete in our urine within two to four hours of ingesting it. For this reason, it’s almost impossible to overdose on vitamin C through food alone.
If you take vitamin C when you feel a cold coming on or because you’re suffering from a viral infection, such as a wart, it probably won’t do any harm. But over-supplementing with vitamin C can cause gas and diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and headaches. It can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
So, unless you rarely eat fruits and veggies, or your health care practitioner prescribes vitamin C supplements to help boost your immune system, (for example, if you are fighting any sort of virus), you don’t need to take them.
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant that works in tandem with vitamin C. It protects cell membranes and improves circulation, helps to prevent sun damage, (although, it’s still important to take precautions when out in the sun), and delays the development of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing cell turnover.
Good Sources of Vitamin E
We get Vitamin E mainly from fats, although animal fat doesn’t contain much. Nuts and seeds and vegetable fats are the workhorses here. Unblanched almonds have 8 or 9 mg of vitamin E per 30g; olive oil and argan oil provide 2 to 3 mg per 15ml or tablespoon, as do a whole egg or 170g of cooked spinach. Fortified cereals and wheatgerm are good sources at 5 mg per 30g. That said, choose fortified cereals wisely; sugary cereals tax your whole system and the sucrose they contain offsets the protection the fortifying offers.
Supplementing Vitamin E
Women who are not breastfeeding require about 19 mg of vitamin E a day, whereas the rest of us need only about 15 mg. While many of us don’t get that much, it’s wise to speak to a health care practitioner before supplementing with vitamin E.
Like vitamin A, vitamin E is fat soluble, which means it can stay in our systems. High doses can cause dangerous side effects, including blood clotting problems.
How to Buy Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Whenever possible, buy small quantities of freshly picked, seasonal fruits and veggies from local farms. These usually contain the most nutrients.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also a good option, particularly if you’re on a budget or you live where it’s necessary to ship in produce. Produce which is frozen soon after being picked retains more nutrients than produce that sits in a warehouse and then on a store’s shelf.
How to Store Antioxidant-Rich Foods Properly
I used to wrap my fruits in veggies in tin foil and put them in the fridge, because that’s what we learned to do to retain vitamins in home economics class in the 70’s. The problem with that is it’s hard to say what’s what after a couple of days. Of course, you can always write on your foil with a Sharpie.
Now, I like to use Rubbermaid Freshworks Produce Savers. They make it easy to see what I have and extend the life of my berries and salad fixings by several days. They also keep the fridge tidier.
Use three parts water to one part white vinegar to wash your produce before storing it.
Bananas release a lot of ethylene gas, which causes other fruits to ripen more quickly. If you want to use bananas to ripen another fruit, put a them together in a bag and check on them daily. If you don’t want bananas to release ethylene gas, use plastic wrap to cover the bananas where they were cut from the tree.
Berries often have spores on them which cause them to decay quickly, so it’s important to wash them in hand-hot water before storing them. Lower the basket into water and swish them around a little, then pour them gently onto a towel and let them air dry before putting them carefully into a produce saver and storing them in the fridge. Strawberries are the exception. They dry out in the fridge, so they’re best kept on the counter after washing, and eaten quickly.
Tomatoes should be stored on the counter, too. They go mushy and lose their flavour if you put them in the fridge. Store them out of sunlight in a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and wash them before eating.
Your crisper drawers are a little more humid than the rest of your fridge. They generally work best when you keep fruits in one and veggies in the other. The ethylene gas which fruits emit causes veggies to ripen and rot quickly. Using your crisper drawers properly will save nutrients and money.
The humidity in your drawers is controlled by the little sliders on them, which are generally labelled high and low humidity. Fruits are generally kept in low humidity and veggies in high humidity.Print
I like to make this simple meal for breakfast, lunch, even dinner, if I’m on my own. It’s quick and filling and it tastes delicious. You can use any sort of berry you have on hand in place of blueberries, if you like.
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp butter
salt to taste
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup plain, high protein yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup
about an 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
mint, if you have it
Scramble your eggs, about 60 strokes ought to do it.
Heat an 8-inch non-stick pan to medium, and melt the butter. (Even if you’re using a non-stick pan, a little butter adds lovely flavour to eggs, and the fat helps to fill you up, so you’re less likely to be hungry between meals.)
Pour your eggs into the pan and immediately begin gently drawing them towards the centre of the pan, so the uncooked egg runs into the open areas and the whole egg mixture sets. Once it’s set, fold it over in thirds, the way you might fold a letter to go into a legal-size envelope. Then, flip the whole thing over, so the seam is on the underside. Turn of the heat and leave the eggs in the pan while you prep the yogurt.
Mix together the yogurt and maple syrup and vanilla and then fold in the blueberries.
Sprinkle salt to taste on the omelette, plate it and top with the yogurt and berries mixture. If you’ve got some mint on hand, chop a little and sprinkle it on. If you’re making it for a friend, garnish with a couple of mint leaves. It’s pretty!
You’re done. Enjoy!
Add some colour and a big boost of nutrition to your next supper with this simple squash recipe.
1 Kabocha squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).
Cut your squash in half, take out the seeds. (See seed roasting recipe below.)
Cut the squash halves into three or four equal pieces.
Melt coconut oil in the microwave, add the cinnamon to it and use a brush to paint your pieces of squash. I like them like this, but you can add a pinch of salt, too, if you like.
Put the squash pieces on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes.
You can put your seeds in for the last 10 minutes. 🙂
You can roast the seeds: Wash off all the strings and bits of squash flesh. Put them in a bowl of water and squish them through your fingers; the flesh will sink and the seeds will float. Dry them and toss them with a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil and salt and pop them in the oven with the squash pieces for the last 10 to 12 minutes baking time.