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By Lauren Kessler
True, food isn't everything, but much of the hope (and hype) surrounding the anti-aging movement is focused on food and in particular on what are being called "superfoods." This is not a scientific term. It is not a term used by dietitians or nutritional scientists.
A superfood is a food particularly rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes and other essential nutrients with proven health benefits. It has more of the good stuff per calorie than other foods and fewer (or none) of the properties considered to be negative.
And when it comes to your skin, these are the top 10 foods you should always eat:
Broccoli—the "eat it, it's good for you" food that George Bush (the elder) proclaimed his distaste for—is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth. It has protein; bone-building calcium; fiber; vitamins A, C and K; a phytoestrogen shown to benefit cognitive skills; and a chemical that, at least in animal studies, reversed age-related damage to body tissues and organs. Done.
Blueberries are one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) top ORAC foods. That stands for "oxygen radical absorbance capacity," which means these foods are antioxidant powerhouses that, as the USDA says, "attack aging at its roots" and can "help slow down the effects of aging in humans" by protecting the body against cellular damage. (Remember the pollution caused by those cellular engines, mitochondria?) Or that's what the USDA used to say.
Recently, the agency has recanted, removing the ORAC list from its Web site because "metabolic pathways are not completely understood and non-antioxidant mechanisms [are] still undefined."
In other words: More research is needed. But studies at Tufts support the "powerhouse food" approach, finding that several compounds in blueberries help to mitigate inflammation. (Inflammation has been linked to just about every disease of aging).
It's one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower cholesterol, prevent blood platelets from sticking to artery walls, decrease inflammation, decrease the risk of strokes and prevent heart attacks. Salmon has lots of protein, is a good source of iron and is low in mercury—a concern for fish lovers. In 2009, Madonna went on a well-publicized salmon binge to "knock 12 years off her appearance," as the Boston Globe reported. Hard to separate the effects of salmon, a 24-7 personal trainer and possible skilled plastic surgery, but the woman looks amazing.
Almonds (walnuts too and pistachios) are proven reducers of bad cholesterol. Like broccoli, they are rich in a type of antioxidant thought to be instrumental in battling free radical damage. They're high in fiber, in phytochemicals that may protect against cancer and in arginine, a precursor to human growth hormone. They are also high in calories, so limit the amount you consume.
Beans also make the short list because they are very high in soluble fiber, which has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers; reduced cholesterol and blood glucose levels; lower blood pressure; and less inflammation.
Sweet potatoes, with their prodigious vitamin A content (good for the skin and eyes), their host of powerful antioxidants and their potassium, which helps blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure and bone loss, are nutritional powerhouses. If you grew up thinking sweet potatoes appeared on the dinner table only once a year, topped with brown sugar and mini marshmallows, that's no way to treat a top 10 superfood.
The Greek-style kind (thicker and creamier) has triple or more the protein of regular yogurt. Yogurt is calcium rich, like milk (and can be tolerated by many of the lactose intolerant), and is full of what is euphemistically called "active cultures"—better than saying it's good for you because it's loaded with bacteria. But it's the good kind, the gut-enhancing kind.
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is the only grain on the list. It's high in protein, fiber and iron. Besides, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists tasked with feeding astronauts in space chose it because it supplied the most "essential life-sustaining nutrients" of any single food. What they meant was that it contained all the essential amino acids and was thus a complete protein—not that it contained every nutrient needed to sustain life.
Adapted from Counterclockwise.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Rodale Wellness.
By Maggie McCracken
Natural beauty fanatics often rave about the benefits of neem oil. Derived from the neem tree, which is native to India, neem oil is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant substance with a history of use in Vedic medicine. According to Stylecraze, neem is often referred to as a "plant with promise," namely because of its healing benefits and multi-purpose usage.
Derived from the neem tree, which is native to India, neem oil is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant substance with a history of use in Vedic medicine.
Though neem has a lot of health and healing benefits, it's the oil's beauty benefits that most people are after these days. You may have read about the reasons you should apply oil to your skin. Here are a few of the reasons to consider neem as your oil of choice.
1. Great for Anti-Aging
Neem oil is loaded with antioxidants and fatty acids that make it amazing for slowing down the aging process. Oleic and linoleic acid are two of the major components of neem oil, which penetrate the skin and keep the lining of the cells soft and supple. Not to mention, using any kind of oil is a fantastic way to keep moisture in. Applying oil to the face will create a barrier between the air and the skin, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin hydrated.
2. Helps Prevent Acne
Neem is incredibly anti-bacterial, which is one of the reasons it's been so widely used in Vedic medicine. Because of these anti-bacterial properties, it's a wonderful ally in the battle against acne.
If you have acne that's caused by bacteria, applying a thin layer of neem oil to the skin can help kill the bacteria that may be getting into your pores and causing blemishes. As an added benefit, the oil will keep the skin moisturized, which can heal acne by preventing dry skin flakes from clogging the pores.
3. Soothes Eczema-Prone Skin
Though neem oil cannot cure eczema—a condition involving dry, itchy skin that often runs in families—it can help soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Just Neem explains why:
"Emollients are what dermatologists recommend for eczema. Substances that fill the gaps and cracks in the skin, prevent moisture loss and restore the protective barrier. Since Neem is especially high in important fatty acids and vitamin E and can quickly penetrate outer layers of skin, it is extremely effective in healing dry and damaged skin. Its strong antiseptic properties will also help to keep bacteria and secondary skin infections at bay."
Neem also contains nimbidin, nimbin and quercetin—three anti-inflammatory compounds that can soothe the skin and reduce eczema-caused redness and irritation. This makes neem oil a wonderful tool to have at your disposal if you have eczema.
Oils are a boon for skin health. Think about it: Your skin is already full of naturally produced oils that keep the skin elastic and hydrated. Supplementing with oils is a great way to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy as you age and neem oil is one of the best choices out there.
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