Eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods is not only good for your health, it’s great for your skin. Think of it as your internal skincare regime.
Free radicals formed by oxidative damage speed up the ageing process. Antioxidant rich foods can assist with counteracting this damage caused by pollution, stress, or poor diet. High intakes of vitamin C, beta carotene, and other antioxidants have been linked to a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and skin dryness, making antioxidants for skin a must-add addition to your routines.
Here are the main antioxidants in food and their main dietary sources:
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) — antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols) — antioxidants found in vegetable oils, nuts, mangoes, broccoli.
Vitamin A — antioxidant found in carrots, sweet potato, milk, eggs.
Polyphenolic antioxidants (resveratrol, flavonoids) — antioxidants found in tea, coffee, fruit, olive oil, chocolate, cinnamon, red wine.
Carotenoids (lycopene, carotenes, lutein) — antioxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs.
The best thing about the following list of antioxidant skin foods is that they’re also delicious and can be easily incorporated into just about every meal. Take a look at these amazing antioxidant rich ideas that are as good for your health as they taste.
Berry Smoothies: With berries being one of the highest antioxidant foods available, incorporating delicious berry smoothies into your diet is a good way to get the daily dose of skin food you need. Keep a box of organic frozen berries in the freezer, then just throw them into your blender with some milk or yoghurt and your choice of sweetener and some protein powder. The best antioxidant berries are açai, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.
Pomegranate: I use pomegranate in many of my Ruah Organic facials, as its high antioxidant and anti-aging power. This lush, seed-bearing fruit provides vitamins C and B5, potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. Pomegranate juice is particularly high in antioxidants, higher than red wine, green tea and wild blueberries.
Green Tea: While green tea can contain caffeine (so you should avoid it if you want a caffeine-free diet), it is high in potent catechin polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants. One cup of green tea provides 10-40 mg of polyphenols and has antioxidant effects greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries. If you don't like drinking it hot try using iced green tea as the base of your smoothies or green drinks.
Red Delicious Apples: While all apples are high in antioxidants, red delicious apples have been found to be the highest in a number of scientific studies. The major source of antioxidants in apples are polyphenols, which are five times more prevalent in the skin than in the flesh. That’s one good reason to buy organic apples and eat the whole apple without peeling it.
Red Wine: Unfortunately, you’re not going to look younger the more red wine you drink - alcohol is very dehydrating for the skin, not to mention it’s other health effects. But red wine is high in a powerful antioxidant, called resveratrol, so enjoying it in moderation (no more than one glass a day) will give your diet a good antioxidant boost. For those of you who don't consume alcohol, dealcoholised red wine can pack a mighty punch when it comes to body-boosting antioxidants that are great for your skin.
Dark Chocolate: In 2003, New Scientist reported that eating dark chocolate can increase antioxidant levels, but the same does not go for milk chocolate — and drinking milk while eating the dark chocolate also cancels out the benefits. Dark chocolate is high in epicatechin, a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. In one study cited, those who ate dark chocolate had a 20% increase in blood plasma levels of antioxidants than those who ate milk chocolate or drank milk with their chocolate.
Garlic: Dinner time in a world without garlic just wouldn’t be the same, would it? Just about every culinary tradition around the world makes generous use of this wonder herb. One clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Apart from its role as a strong antioxidant food, it’s also useful for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, removing heavy metals from the body, and acting as an anti-fungal and antiviral agent.
Yoghurt: It’s a brilliant breakfast food mixed with chia seeds and fruit, added to your berry smoothies or eaten as a healthy dessert in place of ice-cream. It’s not an antioxidant in itself, but it complements the antioxidant glutathione in our body’s cells, giving a kickstart to the body’s antioxidant activity. It’s also high in riboflavin, an important B vitamin.
Broccoli and sweet potato: These are two of the vegetables highest in antioxidants, which is handy, since they’re both so yummy. Broccoli contains more vitamin C and calcium than oranges and milk. Sweet potato is a rich source of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Make sure you don’t overcook them and destroy the nutrients, though. Try this: lightly steam some broccoli and sweet potato together, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, pure salt (rock or lake salt) and freshly crushed or chopped garlic for a turbo-boosted antioxidant injection.