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By David Zinczenko
Aug 16, 2010

Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, and Lindsay Lohan: What do these women have in common? They’ve all been embroiled in tabloid-worthy scandals. But what else? They all look good, even when the press isn’t. That’s because they have what so many of us strive for: Perfect skin.

So, what’s the secret? How do some of us achieve the golden hue of Halle Berry while the rest of us get stuck with a scaly patchwork of blotches, pimples, and dry spots? Some of it’s genetic, sure, but that’s not the whole story. If you listen to the conventional wisdom coming from the pharmaceutical companies, you might think the problem is that you just haven’t discovered the right cream, ointment, or alcohol-soaked cleansing pad to clear up your face. But those are solutions of last resort. What you need is a preventive strategy, one that involves nurturing the complex balance of nutrients that feed your skin and nurture your inner glow. In other words, if you want the kind of skin that looks good even through a Hollywood scandal, you’ve got to eat right. Here are six foods that will have you looking your best.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more quick-hit health tips that draw on everything I’ve learned in more than a decade as editor for Men’s Health and Women’s Health.

1. SALMON

Salmon is an ideal food for many reasons, but as far as your skin’s concerned, there’s only one that matters: It’s among the world’s greatest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Those are the essential fats that, along with bolstering the cognitive powers of your brain, concentrate in the walls of your epidermal cells to help lock in moisture. Plus, in one study, researchers supplemented two groups of mice with either omega-3 or omega-6 fats. After two weeks, the skin of the omega-3-fed group exhibited a 20 percent faster recovery rate from exposure to ultraviolet light. That gives salmon two crucial skin boons: keeping your skin from looking dry and helping it battle the dangers of excessive sunlight. 

Other omega-3 foods: sardines, walnuts, flaxseed 

Bonus Tip: Sushi is one of my favorite ways to eat salmon. Use our Ultimate Sushi Selector to make sure your sushi roll doesn’t turn into a belly roll.

2. CARROTS

Carrots are teeming with tiny orange pigments called beta-carotene, and when you ingest those pigments, you’re inviting them to nestle into your skin, fill in blotches, and give you a healthy glow. And what’s more, research shows that this can actually help prevent premature aging from sun damage. But is the accumulation of orange in your skin going to make you look like an extra from Jersey Shore? Well, hopefully not. But eating excessive loads of carotene-rich foods can lead to a condition called carotenosis, wherein your skin stops looking healthy and starts looking, well, orange. But the conditions is rare, so unless you notice yourself turning into a prison jumpsuit, feel free to chow down.

Other beta-carotene foods:
sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, red grapefruit

3. AVOCADO

One study published by The Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people with higher intakes of olive oil had fewer wrinkles than people with higher intakes of butter. The reason: Butter is loaded with saturated fat, while olive oil is rich in monounsaturates, the same essential fats that make up more than 50% of the calories in an avocado. So why eat avocado over olive oil? Both are good, but avocados have the added bonus of B vitamins, which also help to keep your skin looking vibrant and smooth.

Other monounsaturated-fat foods: olive oil, almonds, peanut butter 

 Bonus Tip: These foods are only the tip of the super-food iceberg. Click here for 15 more Foods that Cure.

4. BEANS

 Legumes, to be more precise. This is the class of plants that includes black beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. And how do these puny pods protect your face? By smoothing out wrinkles. Australian researchers analyzed the diets of more than 400 elderly men and women and found that high intakes of legumes—alongside vegetables and healthy fats—resulted in 20% fewer wrinkles over time. The effect is likely a result of isoflavones—potent antioxidants—concentrated in the beans.

Other isoflavone-rich foods: alfalfa, tempeh, tofu

5. GRAPES

Besides providing protection from heart attack and stroke, antioxidants called polyphenols found in grapes can also help keep middle-aged skin from sagging. That’s because polyphenols improve skin’s elasticity by strengthening collagen, the primary protein in skin’s innermost layer.
 
Other polyphenol-rich foods: grape juice, blueberries

Bonus Tip: Here’s another easy way to tighten your skin and improve your looks: Lose 5 pounds. Start here: 10 simple weight-loss strategies that work.

6. WATER

 Okay, it’s not as fun to drink as wine, but water is the strongest weapon you have against lifeless skin. That’s why they call it “moisturizing”—because you’re trying to lock moisture, aka water, into your skin. To put it broadly, all the body’s processes rely on hydration, so if you’re not sipping throughout the day, you’re likely to have a slower metabolism, groggier head, and, yes, drier skin. One study suggested that it takes a mere half-liter of water to create a measurable increase in the capillary blood flow to your body’s outer layer. That’s just over 16 ounces. Try doing that a few times a day and you’ll have a face like a baby’s bottom in no time.

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/6-best-foods-healthy-skin

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By David Zinczenko
Aug 16, 2010

I send out a lot of info on my Twitter feed, from nutrition news to management tips. I get the most passionate reaction—and the most retweets—when I talk about stress. In fact, a friend of mine recently told me that stress was her biggest dietary villain. “I eat when I’m stressed,” she said.

To which I reacted, “Good!” You should eat when you’re stressed—it’s our bodies’ natural reaction to want to store calories to face whatever challenge is causing the stress in the first place. The key, however, is to eat what your body wants—the foods that actually counteract the effects of stress, and make you stronger (and leaner) when the tough times pass. So next time anxiety runs high, be sure to grab one of these seven stress-fighting foods.

(And while you’re at it, be sure to follow my Twitter feed for hundreds of instant nutrition and health secrets like these.)

Papaya
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a magic nutrient that could stop the flow of stress hormones—the very hormones that make your body superefficient at storing fat calories? Wouldn’t you want to gobble that food up like crazy, especially if it tasted great? Half a medium papaya carries nearly 75 percent more vitamin C than an orange, and provides potent protection against stress. Researchers at the University of Alabama found 200 milligrams of vitamin C—about as much as you’ll find in one large papaya—twice a day nearly stopped the flow of stress hormones in rats. It should work for you, too. 

Other smart sources of vitamin C: Red bell peppers, broccoli, oranges 

Bonus Tip: The closer an ingredient is to its original form, the healthier it is for you. Avoid the worst side of the nutritional spectrum by familiarizing yourself with this shocking list of The 15 Worst Food Creations of 2010.

Peppermint Tea
The mere scent of peppermint helps you focus and boosts performance, according to researchers. Another study discovered that peppermint tea makes drivers more alert and less anxious. 

Other smart sources of peppermint: Peppermint candy and peppermint oil 

Bonus Tip: Beware of disastrous drinks that only pretend to be healthy. Avoid 2,000-calorie shakes, 1,500-calorie smoothies,  and other big offenders in this eye-popping list of The 20 Worst Drinks in America in 2010.

Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with stress-busting potential thanks to high levels of magnesium. Only about 30 percent of us meet our daily magnesium requirements, placing the rest of us at a higher risk for stress symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, tension, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness and high blood pressure. (Basically we’re frayed wires, and magnesium is the electrical tape that can pull us back together.) A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives you half your day’s magnesium requirements.

Other smart sources of magnesium: Spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, soybeans, salmon

Avocados
The healthy fats buried in the avocado’s flesh make it an ideal choice when you’re craving something rich and creamy. The reasons? Monounsaturated (healthy) fatty acids, and potassium–both of which help combat high blood pressure. Avocado fat is 66 percent monounsaturated, and gram-for-gram, the green fruit has about 35 percent more potassium than a banana. Whip up a fresh guacamole or slice a few slivers over toast and top with fresh ground pepper.

Other smart sources of potassium: Squash, papaya, spinach, bananas, lentils

Bonus Tip: Learn how to put these and other health-promoting foods to work in your daily diet to lose weight fast and look and feel better. Sign up for the free Cook This, Not That! newsletter. You’ll have quick and delicious recipes delivered right to you inbox.

Salmon
Not only does omega-3 fat protect against heart disease and cognitive decline, but according to a study from Diabetes & Metabolism, the wonder fat is also responsible for maintaining healthy levels of cortisol. And what’s the world’s best source of omega-3s? Salmon. But there’s another trick in salmon’s arsenal—a sleep-promoting amino acid called tryptophan. One salmon filet has as much tryptophan as you need in an entire day, and if there’s one remedy for stress, it’s a good night of blissful Zs.  

Other smart sources of omega-3 fats: Flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, halibut
Other smart sources of tryptophan: Chicken, tuna, beef, soybeans

Bonus Tip: The favorite trick of your friendly neighborhood restaurant? Substituting salt for flavor. Studies have linked high-salt foods to increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart disease–and experts recommend getting no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium in your diet each day. Keep your salt intake in check by cooking with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients—and by dodging the salty disasters in this list of the 30 Saltiest Foods in America.

Almonds
The almond’s first stress-buster is the aforementioned monounsaturated fats, but at risk of belaboring that point, let’s look at another almond-centered, mind-calming nutrient: vitamin E. In one study, Belgium researchers treated pigs with a variety of nutrients just before sticking them in a transportation simulator (basically a vibrating crate). After 2 hours of simulation, only those pigs treated with tryptophan and vitamin E had non-elevated levels of stress hormones. Almonds, thankfully, are loaded with vitamin E. To reach your day’s requirement from almonds alone, you need to eat about 40 to 50 nuts. Or you can mix them with other vitamin-E rich foods to save calories and add more dietary variety.

Other smart sources of vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, olives, spinach, papaya

Oatmeal
A biochemical effect of stress is a depleted stock of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel cool, calm, and in control. One reliable strategy for boosting serotonin back to healthy levels is to increase your intake of carbohydrates. That said, scarfing down Ding Dongs and doughnuts isn’t a sustainable solution. Rather, to induce a steady flow of serotonin, aim to eat fiber-rich, whole-grain carbohydrates. The slower rate of digestion will keep seratonin production steady and prevent the blood sugar rollar-coaster that leads to mood swings and mindless eating.

Other sources of fiber-rich carbohydrates: Quinoa, barley, whole-wheat bread, Triscuits

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/7-best-stress-fighting-foods

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