The best way to look healthy and attractive may not be inside a $100 jar of cream or under a surgeon's knife. Rather, what you put on your plate may be just as important as what you put on your skin.
An increasing number of studies and clinical trials are underlining the importance of ''beauty foods'' -- super-nourishing fruits, vegetables, nuts, teas and other everyday foods that may replace a trip to the spa with a stop at the neighborhood grocery store.
Did you know that eating salmon and other foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids could result in fewer wrinkles? That you could brighten your smile with cranberries? That spinach, broccoli and Swiss chard contain vitamins that help produce an oily substance that acts as a natural hair conditioner?
''Taking care of your skin is from the outside in, as well as the inside out,'' says Dr. Joely Kaufman, a Miami Beach dermatologist who participates in aging research and is an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. ``A good skin care regimen involves both topical and dietary regimens.''
The most obvious sign of the beauty foods movement has started appearing on store shelves. Earlier this year, the American Dental Association identified foods that are good for oral health with a ''Smile Healthy'' sticker. The small stamp alerts shoppers that certain foods and drinks have been tested and met the standards set by the ADA for promoting healthy teeth.
So far, one-gallon ''Kid Pure'' containers of fluoridated water have earned the stickers; the group expects to adhere more of the logos soon on some sugar-free foods, drinks and dairy products.
''There's real science behind the sticker,'' says Dr. Dominick DePaola, a professor at Nova Southeastern University's College of Dental Medicine, who is helping the ADA identify foods worthy of the logo. ``We don't want people to think there are good and bad foods; unless you abuse food, it's really not bad. But we want to be able to tell people that these are the better choices.''
Most experts say eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to ensure healthy benefits. Still, some specific foods are proving to pack more punch in grooming a glowing complexion, shiny hair, healthy teeth and strong nails.
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