by Alexandra Tunell
Romulo YanesEarlier this week, I met nutritionist and Simple Skin Care advisor Ellie Krieger at the grocery store to stock up on skin-healthy foods. Krieger believes that when it comes to getting--and maintaining--a great complexion, what we feed our bodies is just as important as what we put on our skin. Of course, I assumed all the bagels and coffee I consume weren't doing me any favors, but I learned a lot about what I should actually be reaching for when I'm hungry:
Butternut squash. With its high levels of beta-carotene, squash is one of the best sources of vitamin A. "The antioxidant beta-carotene targets and repairs skin cells, but studies have shown that taking it as a supplement doesn't have the same benefits as eating it," says Krieger. "Cut a squash in half, scoop out the seeds, rub a little oil on it, and bake it with the cut side down."
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Beets. Beets are a great superfood, but "most people throw away the greens, not realizing they're chock-full of both vitamins A and C, which are good for collagen production, and certain minerals that are particularly beneficial for women."
Tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the only foods that contain lycopene (watermelons are another), a nutrient proven to protect skin from the sun and repair damage from the inside out. "The cool thing about lycopene is that when it's cooked, it actually becomes more concentrated. So even if you don't like fresh tomatoes, you'll still get tons of lycopene from cooked ones," Krieger says.
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Quinoa. "The high protein levels in quinoa stabilize blood sugar, which in turn reduces acne flare-ups," says Krieger, who recommends buying a pre-washed version to avoid the grain's slightly bitter natural coating and cooking it just as you would rice.
Tea. Tea is high in antioxidants and disease-fighting flavonoids that are great for your skin; one study found tea consumption is closely associated with less wrinkling. It's also much more hydrating than a plain old cup of coffee. Look for white, green, or black versions rather than blends like chamomile or chai, which are just meant to relax or soothe.