The secret to gorgeous hair and glowing skin isn’t hiding in your medicine cabinet—it’s in your kitchen
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This low-profile berry was ranked number one in antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture compared to 40 common fruits and vegetables. Additionally, berries are packed with vitamin C, which helps produce skin that's firm and strong. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a nutrient that's essential to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels. The antioxidants in blueberries protect you from premature aging, so add half a cup of this top food for healthy skin and hair to your yogurt or cereal every day. (Related: 5 Easy Breakfast Ideas Healthier Than a Blueberry Muffin)
2. Wild Salmon
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Wild salmon—not farm-raised—is one of the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep your skin supple and moisturized. Salmon also has selenium, a mineral that protects the skin from sun exposure. The vitamin D in salmon keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy, too. Try it grilled, baked, in your pasta, with a salad, in sushi, or in one of these dietitian-approved 15-minute dinner recipes.
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This leafy green vegetable is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Spinach is loaded with lutein, which keeps your eyes healthy and sparkling. Popeye’s favorite snack is also a good source of vitamins B, C, and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Trade lettuce for spinach, or saute spinach for a quick, healthy side of this best food for healthy skin and hair. (Also see: How Spinach Can Boost Your Workout Performance)
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The jury's still out on whether oysters are really aphrodisiacs, but they are a good source of zinc, which aids in skin cell renewal and repair. Zinc also keeps your nails, hair, and eyes healthy. Who needs an aphrodisiac when you look and feel beautiful while snacking on a treat that tastes fresh like the sea? (Related: How to Shuck and Eat Oysters)
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Tomatoes are the best source of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene. Surprisingly, lycopene in tomatoes is more easily absorbed by your body when it is cooked or processed, so make sure to stock up on canned tomato sauce, tomato juice, and ketchup to get the biggest beauty benefits from this food for healthy skin and hair.
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You don't need to eat cupfuls of walnuts to enjoy their many benefits: smoother skin, healthy hair, brighter eyes, and strong bones. Get your daily dose of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E by eating a handful by themselves or throwing some in your salad, pasta, or dessert.
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This small, brown, fuzzy fruit is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, which keep skin firm, help prevent wrinkles, and are great for healthy bones and teeth. The antioxidants in kiwis also protect you from cancer and heart disease. Slice and serve as a side to your lunch sandwich, fold diced kiwi into a cup of yogurt come snacktime, or try one of these 10 fresh kiwi recipes any time of day.
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8. Dark Chocolate
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We won't judge you if you keep a secret stash of chocolate in your purse or desk...or both. In fact, we recommend you do. Chocolate contains anti-aging antioxidants called flavonoids, which fight free radicals to protect your skin from UV damage and help prevent the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin discolorations. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that participants who consumed a chocolate beverage high in flavonols (think dark chocolate—the higher the cocoa content the higher the health benefits) experienced improved skin texture and hydration, less sensitivity to the sun, and had 25 percent less skin redness in response to UV light exposure. Try an ounce a day as dessert. (Did you know dark chocolate can give you an edge at the gym, too?)
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One cup of low-fat yogurt has more calcium than a cup of fat-free milk, which is great for your posture, nails, and teeth. Greek yogurt, in particular, is packed with calcium and protein to help maintain those beautiful teeth (everyone loves a gorgeous grin). This best food for healthy skin and hair also contains natural live active cultures or "good" bacteria that aid in digestion, help boost immunity, and tame the effects of lactose intolerance, leading to a flat and "happy" belly. Mix it with fruit or granola for a healthy breakfast or that essential midafternoon snack.
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10. Sweet Potatoes
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You should be eating this superfood more often than just at Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes can help boost immunity and promote glowing, gorgeous skin. Full of beta-carotene, sweet potatoes can help maintain bright, healthy eyes and protect your beautiful skin from UV exposure. The orange root veggies are also bursting with Vitamins A, C, and E, which can help improve the look of your hair and skin. Enjoy the nutritious spuds steamed, baked, sautéed, or roasted into sweet potato fries.
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Rich, creamy, and packed with good-for-you monounsaturated fats, avocados are one of the all-time best foods for healthy skin and hair. Key for healthy hair, skin, and nails, monounsaturated fatty acids or "good fats" can aid in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while improving HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Avocados also contain antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate; and one avocado is packed with more potassium than a medium banana—almost 900 grams! Additionally, studies show that avocados are "nutrient boosters," meaning they aid the body in absorption of nutrients from other foods. Try slices on a sandwich or salad or mash on toast or into your favorite guacamole recipe.
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12. Flaxseed Meal
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Flaxseeds provide a mega boost of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for optimum brain function, a healthy heart, and radiant skin. Studies show both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed help soothe skin conditions like acne or eczema. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s can aid in lowering cholesterol and help maintain a healthy rate of skin cell renewal. Flaxseeds also contain fiber, which can reduce bloating and promote digestion. To ensure your body absorbs all these beauty-boosting benefits, consume flaxseed in ground or "meal" form—try stirring a scoop into quick bread, muffin, or pancake batter. (Just make sure you grind your flax seeds before eating—or else you won't get the full benefits.)
13. Almond Butter
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A great source of satisfying fiber and protein, almond nut butter can help keep your body well-fueled and fit when incorporated into a healthy diet. This tasty spread is also packed with vitamin E, manganese, and selenium, which help keep your hair shiny. The vitamin E in almonds and almond butter can also help protect your skin from the sun's damaging UV rays. Vitamin E and almond oil can also be used topically on the body as a beauty serum. Try the nut butter spread on apples or a slice of whole-wheat toast. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About ALL the Nut Butters)
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Kale is the trendy green of choice and it's also one of the most nutrient-dense foods for healthy skin and hair hiding in the produce section. Kale is packed with vitamins A, B6, C, and K, manganese, fiber, and omegas. One cup of kale provides about 10 percent of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body. With almost 200 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, one cup of kale is an effective antioxidant, boosts immunity, and maintains healthy bones and gorgeous teeth. Toss this healthy green into soups, bake it to make chips, or mix it in salads.
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This tiny grain-like seed is a nutritional powerhouse. Quinoa contains large amounts of protein and all essential amino acids. The best part about this whole grain food for healthy skin and hair? You can eat it for breakfast (as a quinoa porridge with peaches and shaved coconut), lunch (with some mixed greens, shaved fennel, and a balsamic vinaigrette), or for dinner (in a quinoa lasagna)—just to name a few examples. The amino acids, vitamin B6, iron, and zinc in quinoa will help fire up immunity. Fiber will help keep you regular and moving. (See: Why Healthy Carbs Belong In Your Diet)
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Also known as "wakame" or "hijiki salad," sea vegetables have been consumed by the Japanese—a population with one of the longest average life spans on the planet—for thousands of years. (P.S. Learn more about the Okinawa Diet) Chock-full of iron and phytonutrients, seaweed can aid circulation. Plus, nutrients in sea plants, such as iron, manganese, iodine, copper, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium, can help boost reproductive health and are essential for gorgeous hair, skin, and nails. Opt for seaweed salad alongside your next order of sushi.