Ever look at the produce isle in your supermarket and notice how rich and colorful it looks? What you’re seeing is carotenoids at work. These health essentials will also give you super-gorgeous skin, adding natural color and even fighting premature aging. They’re also great for you, and turbo-charge your defenses against inflammation, infection and even cancer.
The Glow Au Naturel!
We can’t produce carotenoids, but thankfully our skin is especially effective at storing them, so a healthy intake is important. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is ideal, but with at least three high in carotenoids, our skin can be healthier looking. Why? It seems that people prefer the increased red and yellow tones our skin shows when we eat sufficient foods containing carotenoids. Not only do we look healthier, people think we’re more attractive too – an added bonus! If you’re reading this blog, you already know that beauty comes from the inside out, but it never hurts to know that other people find us attractive from the outside in.
What Else Do Cool Carotenoids Do?
Think of carotenoids as free radical fighters. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that are missing an electron, and they’ll fight hard to stabilize themselves by binding to our own molecular building blocks. Free radicals are associated with inflammation, disease and general damage to our skin and body. Carotenoids can fight off these nasty buggers, packing a powerful punch.
The science is important, but what you want to take away is the importance carotenoids play in your health and appearance. Beta-carotene, one of the best known carotenoids, is associated with lower rates of skin and lung cancer and lycopene (found in tomatoes) is associated with lower rates of prostate cancer. In fact, people who have a diet rich in carotenoids are generally healthier and live longer than those who don’t. Think about the Mediterranean diet we’ve all heard so much about, which is typically rich in antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables and lower in saturated fat. But even better, the carotenoid beta-carotene, a pre-cursor to vitamin A offers many of the anti-aging benefits of topical retinoids without all the side effects! This kick-butt caretenoid simply knows what it needs to supply, then roams around to squelch free radicals!
Alright, so How Do I Get Them?
The USDA recommends that we fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables. For women, the USDA recommends 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily and 2.5 to 3 cups of veggies. Men should aim for 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit daily and 3.5 to 4 cups of veggies. Seek foods rich in disease fighting carotenoids to reach this goal: carrots, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, spinach, red pepper, peas, kale, broccoli, celery, oranges, papaya, peaches, tangerines, cantaloupe, apricots, cherries and more! Again, think Mediterranean diet – lots of fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats. You can also opt for the supplement astaxanthin or add spirulina (microalgae) to your smoothes!
Next time you go to the grocery store, think healthy glowing skin and load up on the colorful fruits and vegetables loaded with carotenoids. You’ll not only look better and younger, you’ll be working on a healthier you. Sure beats turning ourselves into leather in tanning beds, covering ourselves in the chemical cocktail of construction cone-orange fake tanners, or slathering ourselves with greasy wrinkle creams!