Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eat Your Way to a Glow That Won't Go Away

Watermelon helps increase collagen in skin, making it appear firmer and younger. Archive photo.

WE want to be slim(mer) and trim(mer). We want our hair to shine and our teeth to gleam.

We also want sun-kissed skin, preferably without spending unhealthy hours exposed to its rays. We want our skin to look super hydrated. We want it to glow. Yes, glow – especially this time of year.

Of course, none of this is a revelation, and the solution is simple. Glowing skin, according to conventional wisdom, requires creams, serums, potions. That means a trip to the medicine cabinet, drug store or makeup counter.

Well, that is not exactly the case, says a Texas dietitian. The route to glowing skin need not pass through the bathroom and department store, but through the kitchen and the grocery store.

Almonds every day can help keep acne away. Archive photo.

Five foods – yes, foods – can leave you glowing: almonds, carrots, pineapple, pumpkin seeds and watermelon.

“Eating the right foods can help protect skin from oxidative stress that contributes to the aging process, clear up acne and brighten a dull complexion,” asserts Kari Kooi, from Houston Methodist Hospital.

A sure way to subvert the skin-aging process is to reach for some Vitamin E, magnesium, protein-rich almonds. The vitamin contains antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, those unstable atoms, molecules and ions that can damage skin, plus a whole lot of other unpalatable, confusing business.

As for the magnesium, it plays a role in slowing the aging process and decreasing the incidence of acne. “The high protein content in almonds,” KK says, “stabilizes blood sugar, thereby minimizing acne flareups.”

Carrot soup (Emeril Lagasse style) is on and so can be a sun-kissed tan sans sun. Photo from Food Network Web site.

Though carrots – whether solo, in salad, smoothie or soup – don't have any say in acne, they are a stakeholder in the repair of damaged skin. This is, in part, thanks to the antioxidant, beta-carotene. Not only is beta-carotene responsible for the rich, orange color of this root vegetable, it imparts a hint of this orangeness to the skin, resulting in a natural tan. (Visit to see the recipe for a carrot soup from Emeril Lagasse)

Of course, this is a huge benefit for those with pale skin. Just think about it, eat enough of these babies and avoid sunbathing and bed-tanning, risking sunburn and, more serious, skin cancer.

But if that carrot tan is not deep enough and there is a mad dash for the sun or the bed, then accidental slumber (not out of habit, of course) and subsequent burn, that same beta-carotene can help the skin heal.

Pineapple salsa is delicious, nutritious and helps make a body soft all over. Photo from Whole Foods Market Web site.

To keep that sun-kissed skin soft and bright, think yellow. Then think, pineapple, another one that can go solo or go salsa (Visit to see the recipe for a fresh pineapple salsa from Whole Foods Market).

Pineapples contain the enzyme, bromelain, which is often used as a tenderizer in the culinary realm. Now, how to know whether this is a pineapple ripe for the picking / plucking. Easy, KK says. It's ready when its shell turns from green to gold.

The skin is now soft, bright, youthful. And oily. The latter is not a good look; one want to be glowing, not shining. To that end, pumpkin seeds can do the trick. Zinc-fortified “pepitas” control hormone and oil production that invite acne. They also renew skin cells. Think on that while contemplating a pumpkin-seed muffin or pumpkin-seed topped oatmeal or yogurt.

Be a pumpkin (seed) eater in the service of non-oily skin. Archive photo.

And now for watermelon. Water. Melon. It contains huge amounts of h2o. “As the name implies, watermelon hydrates cells so they’re plump and full,” says KK.

Those hydrated cells increase collagen production, resulting in skin that is firmer and younger looking. Watermelon wedges sound delicious. KK, has a good idea, too: bite-sized pieces combined with spicy arugula, red wine vinegar, thinly sliced red onion and a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese.

Simply put: Eat well. Look good.

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