Some of the most beautiful people I know are the most insecure about their looks. Take my friend Giselle (believe me, not her real name!). She’s one of those women always invited to events most of us rarely go to—award shows, boutique openings, glamorous parties. With her long blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes, she could have her pick of men. But she spends most of her time picking on herself.
“I wake up every morning looking older than the day before!” she told me recently. She already does a lot of the right things—doesn’t smoke, avoids too much sun, gets enough sleep, and takes time to relax and let go of her stress. But when I asked about her diet, she was surprised. “I don’t worry about my weight!” she said.
Maybe not, but the right diet can do more than just lead to weight loss. It can turn back the hands of time, as well. If finding eternal youth youthful is on your to-do list, try adding these Eat This, Not That!-recommended foods to your daily diet plan.
1. Shiitake Mushrooms to Stop Greying Hair
Grey hair is beautiful when it’s age-appropriate, but unfair for folks who start to salt-and-pepper before they’ve finished life’s main course. One cause of early greying: a lack of copper. A study in the journal Biological Trace Elemental Research found premature-graying individuals had significantly lower copper levels than a control group. Your body requires copper to produce pigment for your skin and hair, and shiitake mushrooms are one of the best dietary sources. Just a half cup provides 71 percent of your recommended daily intake of copper—and for only 40 calories!
2. Sweet Potatoes to Regain Your Glow
A study in the Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour showed eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives a healthier, and more attractive, golden glow than the sun. Researchers found people who ate more portions of red and orange fruits and vegetables per day had a more sun-kissed complexion than those who didn’t consume as much—the result of disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids that give those plants their colors. And no, you won’t look like an Oompa Loompa. In fact, given the choice between a real suntan and a glow caused by diet, study participants preferred the carotenoid complexion. Few foods are as rich in the beauty stuff than sweet potatoes; just half a medium potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended intake.
3. Cheddar Cheese to Whiten Your Teeth
Good news, politicians: Cheesy smiles may be good for you. One study in the journal General Dentistry of people who didn’t brush their teeth for 48 hours (don’t try that at home),found snacking on cheddar cheese raised their mouths’ pH to freshly-brushed levels. (Like cavities, discoloration is increased when you have an acidic environment in your mouth.) Plus, compounds in the cheese that adhere to tooth enamel, like a white strip, help to fend off acid.
4. Spa Water to Erase Dark Circles
Puffy, dark circles under the eyes may indicate you had too much fun the night before, but it can also indicate another more common, less exciting issue: dehydration. Salty foods, alcohol, exercise, hot weather and just plain not drinking enough water can create inflammation, which results in the Rocket Raccoon complexion. Start replenishing your body right away: Cut up some citrus fruits (rind included) and soak them in a pitcher of ice water. Now drink copiously. The citrus not only improves flavor, but the rinds contain a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called de-limonene, which helps the liver flush toxins from the body, according to the World Health Organization.
5. Lean Beef to Get Strong, Shiny Nails
Weekly manicures can keep your nails in tip-top shape, but so can Sunday’s top round roast dinner. Researches say a diet rich in protein, iron and zinc are the key to long, strong, beautiful nails. And you’ll get a healthy serving of all three nutrients from a small portion of lean red meat. A recent study in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology that looked at nail growth over the past 70 years found that dietary protein was the difference between spurts and lags in nail growth. It’s perhaps no wonder, considering nails are made from protein—keratin, specifically. Nail it with a small 3-4 ounce portion of top round or sirloin, which are the leanest cuts of red meat, one to two times a week.
6. Almond Butter to Thicken Your Locks
No, you don’t rub it into your scalp like Rogaine. But almond butter is one food that contains a wide variety of nutrients—including protein, healthy fats, and certain vitamins—that have all been linked to hair health. It’s the vitamin E content in the nuts that researchers say is particularly good for keeping your locks thick and lustrous. One eight-month trial found men who supplemented daily with vitamin E saw an increase in hair growth by as much as 42 percent. Just a tablespoon of almonds provides nearly two-thirds of your RDA for fat-soluble vitamin E.
7. Tomatoes to Reverse Sun Damage
New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean—where going topless on the beach is all part of the summertime fun—has to do with the Mediterranean diet. Foods high in antioxidants, particularly deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight the oxidizing effect of UV rays. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology found participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste (a highly concentrated form of fresh tomatoes) daily showed 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group. And tomatoes work double duty to boost beauty: While the carotenoids and antioxidants help the body fight off oxidation that ages skin cells, they also boost pro-collagen—a molecule that gives skin its taught, youthful structure.