Our Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of exotic looking superfood smoothies and acai/moringa/matcha/unicorn horn bowls, that promise glowing skin and endless energy, but what about the humble kitchen staples we all have in our refrigerator and panty?
There are many 'everyday' foods we already have at home that can deliver the same results as these 'superfoods', but that are easily accessible and a fraction of the price! Here are my top five everyday 'Glow For It' foods:
My favorite fruit, and I'm living proof that an apple a day does keep the doctor away! Apples are a antioxidant powerhouse (they have the second highest levels of antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruit in the US), containing host of phytochemicals such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid.
How does this translate to beauty benefits? Quercetin acts an anti flammatory for the skin, reducing free radical and UVB damage, and it also has anti aging properties. Apples are also a great source of pectin, a soluble fiber found in the cell walls of plants. This type of fiber is super gut friendly (remember great gut health is one of the keys to great skin), has been shown to help balance gut bacteria, helps to keep you satiated, and has a detoxifying effect.
The key to getting the most of benefits from an apple - eat the skin as this is where the majority of the nutrients are housed. I love to munch on apples as a snack, and they are a staple of my green smoothies (including the skin) on a daily basis.
Where do I start with the beauty benefits of avocado? Full of wonderful monosaturated fatty acids (the good fat), avocados are a great source of oleic acid, an omega 9 fat that can help with lowering inflammation within the body. They contain lutein, an antioxidant that is important for both skin and eye health. Avocados are rich in fiber, Vitamin E which keeps skin cells strong and hydrated and B Vitamins that are essential for energy production, and that assist in lowering redness and inflammation in the skin.
Avocados are also a budget friendly beauty food as they are one of the 'Clean 15' - meaning you can buy conventionally grown avocados (as opposed to organically grown) as their thick skins are a great barrier to pesticides.
Something you may not know about avocados - you can actually eat the pit! The pit (or seed) is where you will find 70% of the avocados's antioxidants, and avocado pit oil can increase collagen formation, keeping skin young, firm and wrinkle free! A word of warning though - you need a heavy duty blender to handle these!
I eat avocados with my breakfast, throw in my smoothies, even use them as a face mask! I also love them as a dessert food - check out my Avocado and Cacao Mousse recipe here!
Oats contain a double whammy of fiber - soluble and insoluble, both of which are fundamental to great gut health and digestion (a healthy gut is the foundation of beautiful skin). Although they are a carbohydrate they are have a very low glycemic load due to their high amounts of fibre and protein content, making them a great option for sustained energy throughout the day.
Their beauty benefits? They are rich in minerals, including manganese, which is important for healthy hair and vibrant hair color, iron, for strengthening hair and nails, and selenium which is essential for skin elasticity.
Oats are absolutely one of my staple foods, from traditional oatmeal, baking with oat flour, overnight oats and as a component of my go to beauty snack: Glow Bites!
Just like avocado, oats are also wonderful for your external beauty, and one of my favorite green beauty products to contain oat flour is from SW Basics:
Olive oil has fallen out of fashion recently to its hip cousins coconut oil, ghee and grass fed butter. Whilst those are all wonderful options, olive oil still has a myriad of beauty benefits that we can enjoy on a daily basis.
Due to its high content of Omegas 3's, olive oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, which can help in reducing puffiness and redness in the skin, as well as improving body composition (the body's muscle mass to fat ratio). Its high in anti oxidants (including phenols) and Vitamin E which can protect the skin from harmful UVA rays and helps to strengthen skin membranes.
Olive oil is great for using in salad dressings and for drizzling on veggies - a little fat helps the body to absorb all the amazing vitamins and minerals from your nine (!) a day.
Not all olive oils are equal however, choose wisely and always pick an organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil for beauty betterment! Most importantly, save olive oil for post cooking only as heating it can alter its structure and can change it from an anti inflammatory to a pro inflammatory food source.
My number one when it comes to carbohydrates for beauty. The beautiful orange color is an indication of the high amounts of beta-carotene present, that converts to Vitamin A within the body. Also containing Vitamins B and C, these 3 vitamins keep skin smooth, ensure cell turnover, and regenerate collagen. They are also a low GL carbohydrate due to the huge amount of fiber they contain, ensuring an energy boost but not a blood sugar spike. Yams however are different from sweet potatoes, and are nutritionally inferior, so choose carefully!
Some of my clients complain that sweet potatoes take forever to cook, but a great tip is that you can throw them in the slow cooker! Just wash and piece the skins, and throw in your crockpot on low for about 4 hours. You will then have perfectly cooked sweet potatoes that you can eat whilst warm, save for cold, or even freeze for another time.
If I'm in a rush post workout I love to throw cubes of frozen sweet potato into a vanilla protein smoothie for a beauty boosting blast that tastes like a milkshake!
And there is one extra booster that I have to mention: Water!
Water is such a simple component of beautiful skin that sometimes it gets forgotten about in these types of lists! Up to 60% of the human body is water, and, unlike the other foods in the list here we can feel and see the results of not drinking enough water in a matter of hours.
Consider a water goal of 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight, and even more if you train hard or to tend to be a ‘sweater’!