Beautiful Skin: As Close As Your Local Produce Section

A lifetime of beautiful skin begins with antioxidants. Antioxidants are guardians against the damage done to your body by the free radicals that you encounter everyday — things like air pollution, sun exposure, pesticides, radiation and more. In no time at all, these pollutants will dry out both your skin and your social life, leaving you looking and feeling older than your years. Sad? Yes. Unfair? Definitely. But what’s the alternative?

Fighting back, of course. To have the active, healthy lifestyle and gorgeous complexion that you deserve, you have to dig in and wage an all-out battle against these radicals for all that you’re worth. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to load up on the ammunition that works best against age-inducing free radicals — a healthy diet.

All the moisturizers and skin care products in the world aren’t going to repair skin that’s the product of a poor diet. The prettiest complexions are generated from the inside out, nurtured by plenty of fruits and vegetables that generate elasticity and healing. If you really want to wow  the neighborhood with your eternally youthful appearance, sit down today and make a list of these foods that are high in the antioxidants that repair the damage to your skin that’s caused by free radicals.

Carrots aren’t just good for eyesight anymore. High in beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A when ingested, carrots are a superfood for your skin too. When your body is lacking in vitamin A, the deficiency goes straight to your face, causing wrinkles, blemishes and uneven skin tone. A deficiency in vitamin A may even contribute to acne. But when your body processes enough beta-carotene, your skin takes on a healthy glow and becomes less sensitive to the sun. And when you apply beta-carotene directly to the skin in the form of a poultice or mask it helps heal boils, impetigo, ulcers and age spots. Other vegetables that are high in this helpful organic compound include spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cantaloupe. Eating five or more servings of these foods every day will ensure that your body gets enough beta-carotene. And if you’re looking for a good recipe for external application, try this carrot facial mask on for size.

Strawberries, and in fact, most berries in general, pack mean punches when it comes to fighting off free radicals. Eating or drinking strawberries on a daily basis helps your body get enough vitamin C to function properly. Sadly, your body can’t store this vitamin that helps you produce collagen — a protein your body needs for strong tendons and ligaments and for strong, supple skin — so you have to ingest it anew every day. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, and it provides superior protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Other foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, kiwi, bell peppers and most dark, green and leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. For a power-packed treat that’s easy to make, try this ingenious recipe for smoothie cubes.

Walnuts contain vitamin B, another beneficial antioxidant that your body needs to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin. As far as your complexion goes, the vitamin B that’s found in walnuts helps lighten dark circles and acts as a moisturizer when applied directly to skin as walnut oil — a perfect carrier oil. Additionally, foods like walnuts, beef liver, almonds and tuna that contain both vitamin B and healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids help your body better cope with stress and can even help relieve insomnia — both good news for your skin. There are any number of ways to incorporate walnuts into your daily diet, but this citrus walnut pasta salad incorporates other tasty goodies such as celery, red onion and chives, as well as fresh orange and lemon juice too. For topical use, you can buy walnut oil anywhere essential oils are sold.

Avocado contains the vitamins A, C, and E, making it an important part of any diet that’s geared toward skin care. When applied directly to the skin in the form of oil or butter, avocado hydrates and moisturizes. It also helps to lighten age spots and skin imperfections. Additionally, avocado can help reduce the appearance of scars and can even help cure psoriasis and Bright’s Disease — the chronic kidney disease that can end in death if left untreated. As far as ingesting this fruit goes, a glass of juice daily helps to brighten skin and restore suppleness and glow. It also helps prevent breakouts. To mix up your own batch of avocado body butter, follow this recipe that also incorporates green tea and lemongrass. Just the thought of it smells delicious.

Wild-caught salmon is great for your skin. The fact that it can also help you avoid cancer is just an added perk. This fish is super-high in vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as astaxanthin, a carotenoid antioxidant that lends skin elasticity and healing properties. If you eat wild-caught salmon on a regular basis, your body will benefit in an assortment of ways, including healthy bones and joints, good memory, strong heart, strong eyes, and good focus. Additionally, three servings of salmon each week is sure to give your skin a radiant glow. Wild-caught salmon should never be confused with farmed salmon that’s often high in contaminants such as antibiotics. To learn more about choosing and preparing the best wild-caught salmon, check out this guide.

The next time you’re tempted to invest in pricey lotions and skin care oils to improve your complexion, head out to the local produce section of your supermarket instead. The money you spend on green, leafy vegetables and sweet citrus fruits will not only help smooth and soften your skin, but it will make your body strong from the inside out and help lengthen your life in the process.