How to Use The New Food Guidelines and Get Great Skin

By Guest Blogger | Jun 13, 2011

The USDA recently announced a new way to look at healthy eating. Remember the old food pyramid? It’s gone. They’ve replaced it with the new MyPlate, which balances fruits, grains, vegetables, proteins and dairy all on one plate. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains (I go for all whole grains).
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

Take a look at the image above. It makes a lot more sense then the ancient pyramid did, and if you choose just the right types of food, you can help your skin look and perform its absolute best, too. Here what to put on your plate to eat healthy and get great skin at the same time:

FRUITS: Watermelon and papaya contain lycopene, which studies show can help protect skin against damaging UV rays. Red grapes contain antioxidants known as polyphenols—known to help to keep skin from sagging by strengthening collagen. And don’t forget blueberries, plums, strawberries, and blackberries. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that these four fruits had the highest “total antioxidant capacity” of any food. So they’re super free-radical fighters that protect skin cells from damage and prevent premature aging. And pile up the cherries—acerola cherries contain even more vitamin C than an orange – and C is a super-antioxidant for the skin.

GRAINS: The mineral selenium found in whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and cereals is essential for skin health. People with higher levels of selenium sufferer less damage from environmental aggressors. Be aware, however, that this is only true for whole grain breads, not white flour items. So skip the white pasta, rice, and cakes.

VEGETABLES: Carrots and sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, which gives skin a healthy glow and has anti-inflammatory properties that can calm skin ravaged by the environment. Sweet potatoes are also packed with vitamins B6 and C, potassium, and manganese, so they’re basically perfect for your skin. Also, choose dark leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, and spinach. They are rich in age-fighting magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamins B1 and B2.

PROTEIN: Think about fat—not fatty foods, but fatty acids. They’re responsible for healthy cell membranes. And the stronger the membrane, the better your cells can take in and hold moisture. Fill your plate with proteins like omega-3 packed salmon, mackerel, herring, or sardines. And don’t forget about oysters and shellfish. They contain zinc, which can help break down your skin’s damaged collagen and allow new collagen to form, so your skin looks younger and rejuvenated.

DAIRY: The vitamin A found in dairy products is essential for the health of skin cells. Plus, a low-fat Greek yogurt will also aid in digestion, since it contains active live probiotic cultures. And when your insides function at their best, it shows on your skin.

Do you think about your skin when you choose the foods you eat? Have any quick recipes to share? Share them here in the comments.

—Barbara Salomone, Bioelements Founder and President

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