Beauty Superfoods from Head to Toe
By Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
The word “superfood” gets thrown around a lot these days, and for good reason! There are superfoods to reduce your risk of cancer, protect your heart, and even improve your mood. Here’s my list of the best superfoods to help you look and feel more beautiful — all the way from your head right down to your toes!
Beauty secret: These tasty legumes are high in healthy monounsaturated fat and fiber and are loaded with nutrients. One of these nutrients is biotin, a B vitamin that is associated with healthy hair. Deficiencies of biotin have been associated with hair loss.
How to enjoy it: Put a handful of peanuts in a sandwich bag for a quick snack on the go, or enjoy peanut butter on apples, whole-grain crackers or celery. Just remember: Although peanuts are wonderful, they’re also loaded with calories, so be sure to practice portion control. Keep it to a handful a day if you’re trying to lose weight.
More foods for your hair: Avocados and crimini mushrooms contain vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which may help keep hair shiny by helping the fat you eat reach the right places — healthy fats are beautiful for hair!
Eyes: Sweet potatoes
Beauty secret: When it comes to pretty peepers, think orange. Eye health is closely tied to adequate vitamin A and beta-carotene in the diet. In fact, several studies have linked beta-carotene consumption to a decreased risk of macular degeneration, a condition that affects eyesight.
How to enjoy it: Sweet potatoes are delicious when roasted in a hot oven, lightly coated in olive oil. Try our Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.
More foods for your eyes: You can get loads of beta-carotene from eating pink grapefruit, pumpkin, kale and cantaloupe.
Beauty secret: Vitamin D is important for strong, healthy teeth — and sardines are loaded with it! A recent study found that adequate vitamin D intake was associated with good dental health and reduced incidence of tooth decay.
How to enjoy it: Canned sardines are an easy snack or lunch option. Mash them up with a few chopped onions or veggies for a simple sardine sandwich on whole-grain bread, or drain and eat atop whole-grain crackers for a delicious snack.
More foods for your teeth: Cheese can help your pearly whites as well. One study found that cheese helped to prevent cavities and may even whiten teeth! Just keep your serving size to one ounce.
Beauty secret: Have you ever had cracked lips? It could be that you’re not getting enough riboflavin in your diet. Broccoli provides a good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), and it can help keep your lips super-smooth.
How to enjoy it: Broccoli is a beautiful vegetable — delicious when it’s steamed, sautéed in olive oil, roasted with garlic, or added to soups or stews. For a new, fresh way to serve it, try our Broccoli Slaw.
More foods for your lips: Other great sources of riboflavin are yogurt, soybeans and almonds.
Hands: Chia seeds
Beauty secret: You’ve probably experienced winter skin that’s dry, cracked and scaly. While lotions can help, the dry air and constant hand washing during flu season can really take a toll on your skin. The solution: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help turn your snakeskin hands luxuriously soft! One of the best sources of omega-3s? Chia seeds.
How to enjoy it: Chia can be added into muffin mixes, soups, smoothies and even a peanut butter sandwich.
More foods for your hands: Other great sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, and fatty fish like salmon.
Beauty secret: Mention the word “bloat” and both men and women will cringe. No one wants it, and we’re all looking for a way to get rid of it. Well, the secret is out! Just add a few spears of asparagus to your diet and you can deflate that balloon in your belly. Why? Asparagus acts as a diuretic, helping to rid your body of extra fluid.
How to enjoy it: Fresh asparagus is best when steamed and lightly dressed with olive oil or lemon. It’s also delicious roasted and topped with toasted almonds. Or try it raw — straight from the garden!
More foods for your gut: Probiotic or prebiotic foods like kefir and yogurt are great for your gut too.
Beauty secret: Spinach is booty-licious! This green king is especially beneficial for your behind because it contains vitamin C and iron. These two nutrients are necessary for collagen metabolism, which keeps your skin tight and firm — resulting in a better-looking bottom.
How to enjoy it: Get all the nutrients you can from spinach by eating it raw. Spinach salad — with toasted walnuts, chopped apples and a small amount of blue cheese — makes for a delicious lunch or first course at dinner.
More foods for your butt: Other vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits and bell peppers.
Beauty secret: Water is the ultimate superfood for beauty, and cucumbers are more than 90 percent water! But it’s another component in cucumbers that can keep your legs young. It’s called silica, a trace mineral that is abundant in cucumbers and may actually increase skin elasticity. As we age, the skin on our legs may begin to sag a little, and silica may help to keep our legs looking tight. Plus, water-rich foods like cucumbers hydrate the entire body, making them a head-to-toe essential in our diets.
How to enjoy it: Cucumbers are delicious on their own, as an easy snack, or as an addition to lunch. But if you want to serve a cool cucumber side dish this summer, try our Sesame Cucumber Salad.
More foods for your legs: Spinach and other vitamin C-rich foods work well for firming the skin on your legs.
Feet: Brazil Nuts
Beauty secret: If summer is in sight where you live, it’s time to start focusing on how your feet look. Before you pay for that pedicure, though, try adding brazil nuts to your diet. They’re tasty, satisfying and chock-full of selenium, a trace mineral linked to strong, healthy nails.
How to enjoy it: Throw some in your trail mix, or eat them straight.
More foods for your feet: For smoother skin, eat foods with omega-3s, like salmon and chia seeds; foods with biotin, like Swiss chard, help keep nails hard.
Beauty secret: Here’s one of your best defenses against wrinkling: rich sources of vitamin C, like kiwi. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher dietary intake of vitamin C was associated with a decreased likelihood of a wrinkled appearance. Deficiencies in vitamin C can lead to dry or even inflamed skin and gums.
How to enjoy it: Kiwi is delicious on its own or added to fruit salads or smoothies. Peel, cut and enjoy!
More foods for your skin: Other tropical fruits rich in vitamin C include guava, pineapple and papaya.
Beauty secret: While calcium has always been a key player in the world of bone health, probiotics (found in fermented dairy products and other fermented foods) are giving calcium a little competition. A recent study in the Journal of Cellular Physiology found that bone density increased significantly in mice whose diets were supplemented with probiotics for four weeks. Researchers from the study commented that probiotics may turn out to be another important treatment option for patients with osteoporosis. Kefir is one of the best sources of probiotics out there!
How to enjoy it: Kefir, which has a creamy, yogurt-like texture, is sold in grocery stores in the dairy aisle. You can drink it like a smoothie, or add fruit, nuts or granola to it for a more filling breakfast or snack.
More foods for your bones: Eat vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish and fortified cereals. Calcium-rich foods like cow’s milk (or fortified almond or soy milk), sardines, tofu and spinach are also good for your bones.
Brigid Titgemeier, nutrition assistant at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, contributed to this article.