Since Memorial Day weekend kicks off the unofficial start to the summer, we talked with Maria Marlowe—nutritionist and author of Detox Without the Deprivation and the upcoming The Ultimate Grocery Store Guide—on how to get that summer radiance we all want. "While most people think gorgeous skin is the result of a special skincare routine, the truth is our dietary habits are a better predictor of the quality of our skin. Skin, after all, is our largest organ and needs specific nutrients in order to look and perform it’s best," she says.
Here are the top foods to achieve that summer glow.
Marlowe says these tiny little seeds will build strong hair, nails, muscle and skin. "They also have the ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (1:3) and even omega-9, which are all strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the cause of many of our skin woes, including blemishes and wrinkles, so adding hemp seeds to your diet can help reduce or prevent those skin issues." She suggests sprinkling them on salads or oatmeal or blending into smoothies.
Pumpkin seed get their power from both zinc and essential fatty acids including omega-3, 6 and 9. "Like hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds help reduce inflammation in the body. Try them sprinkled on salads, in smoothies or simply by the handful."
Flax is loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3s, which can help bring down a blemish quickly, reduce redness and speed the rate at which wounds heal, says Marlowe. She suggests buying the full flax seed and grinding it yourself in a coffee or spice grinder before use to get the ultimate benefits. But milled or crushed flaxseed will work as well. Try adding it to your favorite granola recipe.
These fun summer veggies contain a number of minerals and compounds that benefit the skin. "They are high in sulfur, silicon and vitamin C, which work together to create glowing skin by boosting collagen, strengthening skin and stimulating the circulatory system," says Marlowe. Throw them into a salad or eat them as a snack on their own or with a dip.
This creamy fruit not only delivers a healthy dose of vitamins on its own, when you pair avocado with a carotenoid-rich food—such as tomatoes, carrots or bell peppers—it can actually help you absorb up to five times more of the antioxidants lycopene (needed for natural sun protection) and beta carotene (for clear skin), Marlowe says. Plus it is a good source of biotin, which keeps skin supple. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also delicious.
Dark Leafy Greens
Marlowe calls dark leafy greens nature’s multivitamin. They are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as sulfur, which all play a role in gorgeous skin. Chlorophyll is the antioxidant that gives these veggies their color, and it also happens to be a potent detoxifier. She says the darker the green, the better, so opt for kale and arugula. Swiss chard, collard greens, watercress and spinach also work.
Marlowe says cantaloupe, honeydew, cucumber and watermelon are water-rich and very hydrating. Plus they are high in vitamin C, which promotes firm, wrinkle-resistant skin. Cucumber also contains silica, which is needed for nail health. "Melon is the perfect skin glow food." And it's versatile to boot.