To really look your best, it's just as important to feed your body with beauty-boosting foods as it is to apply creams, serums, and masks, says Keren Gilbert, M.S., R.D., founder of Decision Nutrition, a nutrition consultant firm in Great Neck, NY. Here are Gilbert's picks for the best foods to stock in your kitchen to reap nutrition's get-gorgeous benefits. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Get glowing with chia seeds
When your cells are nourished, your skin glows. These little black seeds are the highest natural source of omega-3s, a type of fatty acid that benefits your skin by helping to strengthen cell membranes' barriers that allow water and nutrients in while keeping toxins out, says Gilbert. Mix chia seeds into oatmeal or a natural fruit shake, or sprinkle them on a salad at lunch.
Thicken hair with oysters and nuts
Hair loss has been linked to a zinc deficiency, so fill up on foods high in the mineral to keep your tresses full. Besides being known as a classic aphrodisiac (thanks to their resemblance to a certain female body part), oysters contain more zinc than almost any other food. Not a seafood fan? Other good sources include red meat, peanuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. For an easy zinc fix, eat raw oysters on ice with some lemon juice or chili sauce. Or toss roasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts in your next salad.
Fortify nails with sea vegetables
Sea vegetables - such as nori, arame, kombu, and wakame - are packed with nail-strengthening minerals. Potassium, iron, calcium, iodine, and magnesium are highly-concentrated in seawater so your nails reap even more of their fortifying power, says Gilbert. Try adding sea vegetables to soups, stews, and stir-fries. Or whip up Gilbert's seaweed salad using wakame seaweed, sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce, minced garlic, scallions, sesame seeds, and rice vinegar. Bonus: Seaweed is also available dried in powder or in flake form, so you can pop it into salads and rice dishes in a snap.
Make teeth sparkle with sesame seeds
Sesame seeds dissolve plaque and help build tooth enamel for stronger pearly whites, says Gilbert. The tasty seeds are also rich in calcium, which will keep your teeth and jawbone healthy. Toss them over your next stir-fry or salad, or munch on our new favorite snack: sunflower nuggets called Somersaults that have more protein and less fat and calories than almonds.
Related: 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism
Flatten your stomach with lemon water
Fizzy drinks, such as sodas and seltzers, contain carbon dioxide that make your stomach expand so you look and feel bloated, says Gilbert. Instead of reaching for a carbonated beverage, sip on water flavored with lemon and lime slices. The H2O keeps you hydrated, and lemons are a natural diuretic, meaning they ward off water retention where you don't want it by flushing out excess sodium and electrolytes through your urine.
Clear blemishes with maca powder
Maca powder is made from a plant with reddish roots like radishes, and was long used by the ancient Incas to boost energy and sex drive. Today, maca power is getting buzz for its beauty benefits - it may help ease acne triggered by hormonal imbalances. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the potent powder into shakes to reap its beautifying perks. However, limit the amount of maca you use if you're an anxious type, because it may increase heart rate.
Related: 25 Snacks for 150 Calories
Nix swelling with a cucumber salad
Puffy eyes can make you look tired even if you've clocked eight hours of beauty sleep. You can trick your body into letting go of excess liquid by noshing on natural diuretics. For a triple-dose, try tossing half of a sliced cucumber with 1/4 cup parsley and 1 tbsp lemon juice. You'll wake up bright-eyed even if the kids kept you up all night.
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