Eating for Beauty: Pick These Foods!

eating for beautyWritten by Tess O’Brien and Edited by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN

If you are what you eat, then eat beautiful food! Eating for beauty is easier than you think. There’s growing evidence to support that the food we eat makes profound changes to both our health and beauty. Our body’s beautifying process is very complex. As food digests into smaller nutrients, it affects hormone balance, inflammation, and skin health. Since eating is an everyday activity, it’s important to eat foods that your body and skin will thank you for. Glowing skin, shiny hair, and more energy will be your body’s way of expressing gratitude. And, with skin cells renewing every few days, it’s no wonder that our food selection has a dramatic impact on us both inside and outside. Eating for beauty is a possibility, if you choose foods wisely.


walnuts for fatty acids for beautyWhen eating for beauty, omega-3 fatty acids are important. Walnuts have significant amounts of this essential fatty acid. Skipping out on the recommended intake of omega-3s may give way to health complications including heart disease and diabetes. According to Dr. Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, author of The Beauty Diet, an omega-3 deficiency can also result in dry, scaly skin or eczema.


It ‘s already established that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables can help fight chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. However, greens, greens, and more greens will also aid in delivering you the most organic makeover ever. Greens are key when eating for beauty! Cruciferous vegetables, like kale, contain vitamins C and A, which are key anti-aging nutrients. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen which is a type of protein we need for connective tissues. That collagen also strengthens your skin on your face. Vitamin A from kale is actually called beta-carotene. Vitamin A and it’s beta-carotene derivative are needed by all skin cells throughout the body. Too little vitamin A will result in both dry skin and poor vision. As a green leafy vegetable, kale is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrients are crucial in protecting your skin and vision. Additionally, kale’s omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and nourish the hair follicles, favoring overall hair growth and strength. Want to get started eating this right away? Here’s a great kale salad recipe.

Citrus fruits

citrus fruits for beautyCitrus fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit help maintain an alkaline state of the body while reducing inflammation. Additionally, the rind of a citrus fruit, such as an orange peel, contains an oil compound that provides UV-protective benefits. In fact, many nutrition experts encourage the consumption of citrus zest due to its DNA-repairing (aka skin-damage repairing) properties. Eat a citrus fruit daily when eating for beauty.


While oranges, limes, and lemons also contain a lot of vitamin C, kiwifruit is often underestimated for its vitamin C and health benefits. According to the founder of, Michael Greger, M.D., kiwis can even be a holistic prescription for insomnia! According to Greger, just two kiwis an hour before bedtime appears to significantly improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency. And, we all know how important a good night’s sleep is to our overall well-being and how we look in the mirror (think bags and dark circles).

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables such as seaweed have a high content of iodine. Iodine is essential for regulating thyroid hormones, metabolism, and growth. If iodine is deficient, thyroid hormones cannot be synthesized. And, without sufficient thyroid hormones, metabolic rate slows, causing weight gain and fatigue. Many spas and skincare companies use seaweed as detoxifying body wraps or an ingredient in skincare formulas due to the belief that it improves circulation and reduces cellulite. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that seaweed actually reduces cellulite. We do know eating it provides trace nutrients in addition to the iodine. The fiber content is also helpful for gut health and blood sugar control.


Beauty companies around the globe are also promoting the benefits of antioxidants. These antioxidants are formulated into their topical products and marketed in such ways that leverage the glowing skin effects and anti-aging properties, Ex: Skincare by Alana’s Skin Script Acai Berry Moisturizer. “More and more scientific studies are proving their effectiveness, not only in helping to reduce wrinkles and aging, but also reducing inflammation, such as rosacea, or even helping prevent skin cancer” (Best Health). Berries contain large amounts of antioxidant rich polyphenols. These polyphenols work to visibly repair environmental damage which rejuvenates the skin’s natural defenses for a fresh-looking complexion.


avocado for for beautyAnother beauty boosting food on our list is avocados. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant for protecting cell membranes. Vitamin E works to protect lipids throughout the body by neutralizing reactive oxygen compounds before they can cause damage. This protective activity then aids to prevent collagen fibers from free-radical damage, UV ray damage, and solar radiation damage. This in turn stimulates the healing of damaged skin (such as stretch marks and scars), fights wrinkles, and improves skin elasticity.


Soybeans have a high concentration of isoflavones. Isoflavones are a type of plant chemical found exclusively in soy foods, including soybeans. These isoflavones mimic estrogen and are antioxidants. Some studies show that those who eat more soy have fewer wrinkles and more skin elasticity.

Green tea

Although not a food, tea is a widely consumed beverage and another important source of polyphenols. It has varying amounts of caffeine, minerals, vitamins, and unique amino acids which are crucial for our body’s beautifying process. Green tea’s phytochemicals are a potent source of external antioxidants that could reverse excess skin-damage inside the body, and thereby diminish photoaging (Prasanth, Sivamaruthi, Chaiyasut, Tencomnao).  But green tea is not just for drinking! Green tea extracts are a popular ingredient in skin care products and science backs its use as an ingredient for moisture retention to aid in reducing dry skin. For some more fun green tea information and brewing tips, see a previous green tea post.


water for beautiful skinWater is an essential but often overlooked nutrient. Delivering adequate water to your body allows your digestion to move along smoothly. Efficient delivery of nutrients to your skin’s surface occurs with proper digestion. Since your skin is the largest organ of the body, a lack of hydration can affect the skin’s appearance. Skin may appear dry, flaky, and rough. And, those little wrinkles may be more prominent without enough water.

Take away

While there are many advantages to consistent hair and skincare beauty routines, the most crucial (and often overlooked) part of any daily beauty regimen is incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet. And, since mother nature packages the best nutritional formulas, eating whole food for beauty is better than taking supplements! For those actually needing a supplement, choose wisely. From the oxidation-inhibiting antioxidants in berries to the hormone-regulating iodine in sea vegetables, each beauty-boosting food contains unique compounds. These compounds can produce the beautiful results of glowing skin and strong, shiny hair. Do you have a favorite food you enjoy eating for your beauty routine?

Cereal Confusion: 4 Purchasing Tips for Eating Well

So what’s in your cereal? Breakfast cereal is a quick and often nutritious breakfast. For some, it also serves as an occasional lunch or dinner as well. Even though cereal can be nutritious, there are some potential  consumer pitfalls to avoid when buying cereal if your goal is to eat well. Consumers should be sure to purchase cereals with the following in mind:

Cereal should provide fiber

Most Americans are not getting enough dietary fiber and by choosing a cereal with fiber, you can improve your odds of meeting your fiber requirements. Americans should be eating between 25-40 grams of fiber, so choosing a cereal with at least 3-5 grams of fiber is a good start. Some cereals, such as the Kashi line, have 10 grams of fiber per serving.  Many fiber rich cereals are also made from the more nutrient dense whole grains. These whole grains offer a laundry list of additional nutrients aside from fiber.

Cereal should be limited in sugar

One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 5 grams of sugar. Be sure to check out the Nutrition Facts Panel on the box for this information. A cereal should have less than 3 grams of sugar.

Cereals should be limited in fat 

Cereals are primarily complex carbohydrate. If more than one to two grams of fat per serving are noted on the food label, the cereal company may have added additional fat to the product. Cracklin Oat Bran has a hefty 7 grams of fat in 3/4 cup serving, which would be excessive for a cereal.

Cereals contain too much iron for some people

 While many people need that iron fortification, seniors do not. They should take stock of how much iron is in their selected cereal.  Look at the Nutrition Fact Panel, and note if the iron is 100%. If so, it is too much, and a cereal with 0-25% iron should be selected.

Selecting a low sugar and fat cereal loaded with fiber is a good way to put your best nutritional foot forward.


Is Life Sans Soda Pop Really Going to Slim Us Down?

Glass of Cola with a Straw in ItToday’s news coverage seems to be focusing relentlessly on the new Coca-Cola commercial which implies the company is part of the weight loss solution, and not the cause of the obesity problem.  The commercial highlights all the reduced sugar products offered by the company-noting many are reduced calorie, calorie free, or portioned into smaller mini-servings.  Critics of Coca-Cola note all the sugar cubes in various servings of soda pop.

Empty calories from any food source consumed in excess of a person’s energy requirements will promote obesity.  Critics of regular soda pop will add that it is easier to drink excess calories than consume them through food.  This may be a valid point, but it is not in and of itself a reason to point the finger at soda pop or the Coca Cola Company as the main reason we are a fat country!  Lest anyone come to the conclusion that I condone pop-I rarely drink it or advise my clients to consume it.  There are some important health related reasons to avoid soda pop, but you never hear your doctor or the media citing the reasons-you only hear that pop makes you fat.  Some of the other reasons to avoid pop include:

Dental decay.  Give a teenager with braces regular soda pop on a daily basis and it is a recipe for a lot of cavities.  I knew a teenage boy who would only drink regular soda pop (as opposed to diet) and when the braces came off, he had seventeen cavities!

Bone Loss.  Everyone needs to be concerned about their bones.  Osteoporosis occurs in both men and women and millions of people suffer from it.  Studies show that both diet and regular soda pop may weaken bones by increasing calcium excretion.

Poorer Quality of Diet.  When dairy products or beverages containing calcium (calcium fortified soy, almond, rice milk or orange juice) are replaced by soda pop of any kind, it decreases the likelihood that individual calcium requirements are being met. Food sources of calcium are also important sources of other important vitamins and minerals, so too much soda decreases the likelihood that overall nutritional requirements are being met.

Quality of Sleep.  Many brands and types of soda pop actually contain caffeine.  While many individuals are aware of this and intentionally have pop in the morning rather than coffee, many people are unaware that caffeine may be lurking in their soda pop.  Mountain Dew and some brands of root beer contain caffeine.

Right now, in this country, you have a choice to drink pop, not drink pop, or drink a reduced or calorie free version.  The choice is that of the individual, and the individual should take responsibility.  Coca cola has simply given the consumer a choice and people make their choices which have consequences. If anything, educating the public on energy requirements and how soda pop does or does not fit into a healthy eating regimen seems in order-not the media hype of criticizing a company.  We need to begin to take some personal responsibility for how we eat and how we take care of or bodies.

Do you think the media hype and criticism are warranted?