Gulp your antioxidants
By Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD
We all know that antioxidants are critical for fending off those ubiquitous free radicals that damage skin cells and cause premature aging and disease.
However topical creams and serums laced with such nutrients as vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, polyphenols and other bioactive compounds, merely scratch the surface of skin health and anti-aging.
When these same compounds are ingested and enter into the blood stream, they are much more effectively distributed to all of the skin’s layers. It’s even believed that sebum, an oily/waxy matter secreted from the sebaceous glands which lie deep inside the skin’s layers, is used to not only lubricate and waterproof the skin, but also functions as the perfect transport vehicle for antioxidant nutrients.
Don’t just scratch the surface of skin health with lotions and potions, nourish your body from the inside out with antioxidant-rich foods.
What about antioxidant supplements?
If you think you can just pop some pills for the same benefits, think again. A large French study (published in the Journal of Nutrition) showed an increased incidence of not just skin cancer, but of melanoma type cancer, in those taking antioxidant supplements. The incidence was seen in women, not men, who were taking oral supplements of vitamin C (120mg), vitamin E (30mg), beta-carotene (6mg), selenium (100mcg) and zinc (20mg), none of which were much above the recommended doses for these supplements. The researchers theorized that antioxidant supplements, in general, tend to give women a false sense of protection, which leads them to slack on sun protective habits like putting on sunscreen.
Here’s an easy solution. Start your day off with an antioxidant-loaded smoothie. Using the richest sources of polyphenols, anthocyanins, beta-carotene, vitamins (C and E), omega-3 fats, this recipe will feed your skin with a mega dose of anti-aging power. Oh, and contrary to its name, it won’t turn your skin orange.
The Oompa Loompa Smoothie
Ready in 10 minutes • Makes 2 cups / 16 oz
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 carrot, finely chopped or shredded
1/2 cup papaya, rough chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Pour into a 16 ounce glass to drink right away or pour into a reusable water bottle for to take on-the-go.
Turn this smoothie into a slushy by adding 1/2 cup water or 6 ice cubes. Or for an extra antioxidant-boost, try 1/2 cup of brewed and cooled green tea.
Nutrients per serving Calories: 225, Carbs: 40 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 30 g, Protein: 5 g, Fat: 5 g
% Daily Value (DV) Vitamin A: 137% • Thiamin-B1: 13% • Riboflavin-B2: 6% • Niacin-B3: 5% • Vitamin B6: 6% • Vitamin B12: 0% • Vitamin C: 228% • Vitamin D: 0% • Vitamin E: 5% • Folate: 13% • Pantothenic Acid: 5% • Calcium: 7% • Copper: 6% • Iron: 8% • Magnesium: 8% • Phosphorus: 29% • Potassium: 4% • Selenium: 2% • Zinc: 3% • Omega-3 fats: 680mg*
*Nutrients in bold have been shown in research to directly support skin health.
About the Author Elizabeth Brown is a registered dietitian and a fitness and beauty enthusiast. She lives in Santa Monica, California.