The secret to healthy hair and vibrant skin might not be found in the cosmetic aisle but rather in the grocery store. Specifically, fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and antioxidants that may improve the look and feel of your skin and hair. Eating these fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy balanced diet can improve your overall health and help you fight the signs of aging.
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The skin of purple grapes contains resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound. Polyphenols are known for their antioxidant properties. Although there is still a debate over its effectiveness, resveratrol has been linked to protecting skin from free radicals that cause cell damage, wrinkles and brown spots. According to Columbia University Medical Center, resveratrol is very effective at preventing DNA damage caused by ultraviolet-B light, one of the risk factors for skin cancer.
Known for its benefits to eye health, the lycopene in tomatoes has also been shown to protect the skin from environmental toxins that can cause acne. This potent antioxidant is also the most powerful carotenoid against singlet oxygen, an oxygen molecule that is a primary cause of premature skin aging. Lycopene helps cells maintain their integrity when faced with environmental toxins like smog, dust and mold. Regularly eating tomatoes is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting enough lycopene for skin health. Lycopene is also found in carrots, pink grapefruit, watermelon and papaya.
Avocados contain vitamins C and E that help keep hair healthy and hydrated. Vitamin E works at the cellular level of hair to defend against free radical damage and protect the scalp. Vitamin E is essential in the growth of capillaries that improve blood and oxygen circulation throughout the body. A byproduct of this improvement in circulation is preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth. Vitamin C is required to produce collagen, a protein that forms a protective sheath around each bulb of hair and gives each strand of hair its thickness. Eating avocados or cooking with avocado oil are two ways to ensure you are getting enough of these vitamins to benefit your hair. Homemade hair masks containing fresh avocados or commercial products containing avocado oil have also been shown to improve the look and feel of hair.
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that is also referred to as coenzyme R, vitamin H and vitamin B-7. Biotin deficiencies are known to cause skin rash as biotin is necessary to build the healthy fats needed to keep the skin moist. Without biotin, the skin can become flaky, red and irritated. Swiss chard, carrots and tomatoes are among the top six vegetable sources of biotin, and Swiss chard has the densest concentration of biotin per serving when compared to romaine lettuce and cauliflower. Since biotin is typically stable when cooked, these vegetables can be eaten raw, lightly steamed or sauteed and still contain enough biotin per serving to contribute to healthy skin.