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“Glamour is about feeling good in your own skin,” says American actress and dancer Zoe Saldana, who’s well known for watching what she eats.
One of the best things you can do for your skin is to eat fruits every day. But why? And which fruits? Here are some suggestions.
Before we get into specifics, let’s look at your body’s need for fruits.
Fruits (and vegetables, too!) contain powerful antioxidants that protect your body from disease and defend your skin against damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are destructive, aging elements in the body triggered by environmental factors, including pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, herbicides, and overexposure to sunlight. Left unchecked, free radicals can negatively impact your health in general and your skin in particular, causing wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.
Fortunately, antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, can reduce and limit the damage of free radicals to your skin, body, and overall health. There’s evidence of lower cancer rates, due to antioxidants, in those who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. For the skin, antioxidants can slow the natural aging process by preventing free radicals from causing harm or from forming in the first place.
Antioxidants are believed to support your immune system, promote the healing of cuts and spots, strengthen the capillaries that supply blood to the skin, and help your body produce the collagen you need for your skin’s health, strength, and elasticity, and for the prevention of wrinkles.
The result of a diet rich in antioxidants—from sources such as fruits—is a youthful and radiant complexion.
Low in calories and high in antioxidants and dietary fibre, fresh and dried apricots are equally beneficial. The power of apricots for digestive health and the removal of toxins has long been known among those in Mediterranean countries. In addition, apricots do an outstanding job of protecting your skin from damage due to free radicals. They’re abundant in vitamins A, C, K, and folate, and they promote healthy circulatory and lymphatic systems.
An avocado is green, but nevertheless, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable. An avocado is abundant in vitamins including A, B6, C, E, and K (as well as niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid), so it’s a powerful antioxidant. Eating avocados can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful and aging ultra-violet rays. An avocado’s healthy fats help the skin maintain its elasticity. This fruit can also reduce inflammation, and speed healing for cuts, abrasions, and burns.
Best known for their high potassium content, bananas also have outstanding skin-healing properties. This is because of their many nutrients, including dietary fibre, vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate, and high-levels of minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. In addition, banana peel applied topically with the inside against the skin is said to remove or at least diminish the appearance of acne scars.
Dr. Ronald Prior of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asserts that bilberries offer the most antioxidant capacity among the twenty fruits and vegetables he examined, including cranberries, strawberries, plums, and raspberries. Loaded with powerful antioxidants, bilberries help your body fight the skin-aging effects of free radicals. They enhance collagen strength and promote good health in your digestive system. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits to support your immune system and relieve inflammation-induced skin conditions.
Here’s great news for wine drinkers: whether red or green, grapes are rich in the antioxidants. One of these with beneficial skin properties is resveratrol; at least one cosmetic company manufactures a resveratrol skin-care product for topical application. Scientists are exploring the benefits of this antioxidant, with positive results. One experiment showed that agility improved among laboratory mice given resveratrol; another indicated resveratrol can counteract the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Additional findings suggest its power to combat heart problems and high cholesterol levels.
Like all citrus fruits, lemons are rich in vitamin C, a super-antioxidant that strengthens capillaries supplying blood to the skin, protects the skin from sun damage, promotes healing, helps fight infections, and assists the body in flushing out toxins. Lemon juice can be mixed with water, honey, coconut oil, and other natural products and applied topically to minimize acne scars, oily skin, age spots, and dark circles under the eyes. The orange is another citrus fruit loaded vitamin C. In fact, a medium one contains 150 percent of your minimum daily C requirement. The nutrients in oranges help your body fight free radicals, reducing sun damage, inflammation, and collagen breakdown.
Mangoes do an outstanding job of healing and rejuvenating the skin. They’re even used in the cosmetic industry in products for wound healing. Loaded with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as flavonoids and beta-carotene, mangoes protect your skin from sun damage and inflammation, and their high fibre content promotes good digestion.
This tropical fruit contains vitamins A, B, C, and the minerals copper, potassium, and magnesium. Papayas help prevent skin damage from free radicals, and they have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. A single serving of fresh ripe papayas delivers nearly 150 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. A study of women by researchers from Bedfordshire in 2007 found that consuming just 4 milligrams of vitamin C (a small papaya has nearly 20 times this much!) daily for 3 years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent. The researchers concluded, “Higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance.”
Popular songs from decades ago sang the praises of a “peaches and cream” complexion, and for good reason. Peaches can enhance the skin both from the inside and the outside. Vitamins A, C, E, and K plus calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and dietary fibre—all found in peaches—promote beautiful skin and good overall body health. Thinly sliced peaches or peach pulp can be applied to the skin as a ten-minute face mask that delivers a healthy glow.
This tangy, sweet fruit was brought to Europe from the New World by Christopher Columbus. It became a design symbol of hospitality, and in England in 1723, a special greenhouse for growing the plants was built at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Today pineapples are known as a rich source of manganese, an antioxidant important to good metabolism, and vitamin C. Pineapples also contain an enzyme called bromelain that has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and wound-healing properties. Applied topically, pineapple pulp can help heal burns and other skin conditions.
Nuts are fruits, too, and walnuts are among the best when it comes to your skin. According to a study by the American Society for Nutrition, a single serving of walnuts delivers polyunsaturated fatty acids that may help lower your risk of skin cancer or slow its development. As chemistry professor Joe Vinson puts it, “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.” He adds, “Consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, this is the fruit for you! Plentiful in vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, watermelons also are rich in dietary fibre. And they contain no fat or cholesterol. The nutrients in watermelons can help you prevent skin damage. And the abundance of water in this fruit helps your body flush out toxins and improve digestive health—both of which indirectly benefit your complexion.
We’ve established that eating fruit is good for your skin. What are the other benefits?
Fruits, rich in fibre, support good gastrointestinal health. According to www.caloriebee.com, “Constipation causes acne. When you are not having regular bowel movements, . . . toxins . . . will be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Your body then looks for other ways to dispose of the toxins, most often through the skin . . . . Acne and pimples . . . can all be avoided by simply eating fibre rich foods.”
As a 2016 article in the Telegraph reports, “Eating fruit during pregnancy could make your child smarter.” According to Piush Mandhane, associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, “One of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit mothers consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit they had, the higher their child’s cognitive development.” Eating too little fruit during pregnancy can also lead to children who are fussy eaters, as well as to prenatal issues such as poor neural-tube development.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the USDA asserts that “fruits and vegetables high in fibre can reduce chances of developing coronary heart disease. Eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas . . . can help reduce blood pressure.”
Finally, of course a piece of fruit is better for weight management than a bag of crisps or sweets. As www.weightlossresources.co.uk points out, “Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, and high in fibre—three essential ingredients for successful weight loss.” Snacking on oranges or bilberries is a great alternative to crisps or sweets if you’re trying to lose pounds or maintain your current weight.