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Think beauty is only skin deep? Think again - real good looks come from within. Read our nutritious and delicious guide to eating yourself beautiful, from the skin-boosting power of plant collagen to the most potent antioxidants on the planet.

The tiny acai berry has become a beauty buzz-word of late, with extracts appearing in everything from bottled water to facial serums. The fruit, which is harvested from acai palms in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, is one of the most potent forms of antioxidants in the world and a powerful metabolism booster:
“Antioxidants protect the body from over-production of free radicals, which cause damage to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and DNA in the body, affecting their function and structure,” says Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, an expert from the British Nutrition Foundation. “Antioxidants have been suggested to have anti-ageing properties and to be associated with a lower risk of diseases including heart disease and cancer.”

It’s time to celebrate: ladies consuming moderate amounts of chocolate can actually be good for you. But we’re not talking about Flakes and Galaxy bars.
With such high levels of cocoa and low levels of saturated flat, dark chocolate (like Green & Blacks 70% cocoa) is packed with nutrients including protein and iron, which improves the oxygen flow in the blood stream. Dark chocolate contains eight times the number of antioxidants than strawberries - antioxidants reduce the ageing process by fighting against the presence of harmful toxins in the body.
Top tip: stick to chocolate high in cocoa (not milk) and enjoy a couple of squares a day guilt free.

People in China have raved about the health-boosting properties of green tea for thousands of years, claiming that regular consumption can improve the quality of your complexion, boost your immune system, aid digestion, increase your metabolism and even reduce the risk of cancer. Thousands of years later, it turns out they were pretty spot-on: the antioxidant levels in green tea are through the roof. So forget your morning skinny late, and opt for a calorie-free green tea instead. Just remember that it does contain caffeine, so swap it out for something like camomile at night, to ensure restful sleep.


Formed from the nectar of the Manuka bush, this sweet treat native to New Zealand is sought-after for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can fight infection in the body. Health experts claim that eating a couple of spoons a day promotes good digestion and rejuvenation during sleep, while applying it directly to problem areas can help to combat conditions such as eczema, acne, ulcers, and accelerate the healing time of wounds and scars. Opt for a Manuka with a rating of UMF16 (which tells you how strong the anti-bacterial strength is). 

Surprised? So were we. But it turns out slurping back a small glass of red wine a day may just be good for you. Not only is red wine jam-packed with skin-boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, but drinking moderate amounts of alcohol has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease: “There is evidence suggesting that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease,” Dr Weichselbaum confirms. “Women can drink up to two to three units per day without significant risk to their health.”

All nuts are full of repairing proteins as well as other vital nutrients like iron, healthy omega fats (which aid the production of collagen) and vitamins, but almonds pack a real punch when it comes to beauty-boosting properties. Inside those tiny ribbed shells is a compact nutrient bomb rich in hair- and bone-strengthening calcium, skin-boosting zinc, phosphorous, magnesium and anti-oxidant vitamin E:
“Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and protects the body’s cells against damage,” Dr Weichselbaum explains. “Foods containing large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids will generally contain large amounts of vitamin E, therefore the richest sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, seeds and nuts – like almonds.”

Forget drinking expensive potions รก la Sienna Miller and Victoria Beckham, who hit the headlines a few weeks ago with their unusual new anti-ageing antics – knocking back GlamTox collagen drinks twice a day. At £48 for a week’s supply, they don’t come cheaply. At £1 a pack however, a collagen-boosting bag of spinach does.
Eaten raw, stewed, or spooned into a recipe, the natural nutrients in spinach can aid the production of collagen in the body. Collagen helps retain the structure of our skin tissue, keeping lips plump, cheeks firm, hair shiny and cellulite at bay. It’s also packed full of iron and protein, and at a mere 49 calories per cup, is a great food to fill up on at meal time. Not keen on the taste? Kale and asparagus are also powerful natural collagen boosters.


Believe it or not, there are such things as ‘good fats’, and some, like the monounsaturated fats contained within olive oil, are vital to our diet.
These crucial nutrients provide important functions such as protecting our cells, boosting the condition of our skin and even lowering our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels to protect our hearts. Olive oil contains more monounsaturated fats than any other vegetable oil, and, when bought in its purest Extra Virginextra virgin form, is also a great source of antioxidants. Try swopping swapping out sunflower oils and creamy salad dressings for a spoon of olive oil instead.


Is delicious on a slice of malted toast with a sweep of cream cheese and a squeeze of lemon, but is also one of the best ways to stock up on omega 3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
These fats aren’t manufactured in the body, so it is vital that we source this nutrient from elsewhere in our diet. Packed full of protein and low in saturated fats, eating salmon two or three times a week is great way to keep them topped up.
Vegetarian? Try adding tofu, soy beans, seeds and nuts to your diet, all of which are rich in omega 3.

10) EGGS

Poached, boiled or scrambled, eating protein-packed eggs in the morning can help to strengthen distressed hair, repair tired muscles and boost a lack-lustre complexion. Dr Weichselbaum explains:
“Eggs provide you with many nutrients, including protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B2 and iodine. They have long been suggested to increase blood cholesterol levels as they contain relatively high amounts of cholesterol. However, the cholesterol we get from our food has less effect on our blood cholesterol than saturated fat. Eggs are a good choice as part of a healthy balanced diet. It’s better to cook your eggs with only a little or no fat, so poaching or boiling the eggs is better than frying them.”

11) KELP

Don’t waste money on fad diet pills when you can boost your fat-burning metabolism the natural way. Kelp or seaweed has been a staple part of the Japanese diet for hundreds of years, valued for its beauty-giving, stay-trim properties. In more recent times, scientists have been able to identify no less than 25 different vitamins and minerals in kelp, which is particularly rich in magnesium (which is essential for hair growth) and iodine.“Iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones, which are vital regulators of metabolic rate and of physical and mental development,” Dr Weichselbaum says.
This means that increasing your iodine intake will keep the rate at which your body burns fat working to full capacity. Kelp is also a good weight loss supplement because itAnd kelp also contains minerals which can help to break down excess fat and fluid stores in the body. You can get hold of kelp in its raw forms at most good Japanese and Chinese supermarkets. If you’re not keen on the taste, , or you can pick kelp supplements up at health food stores.


You may think it unlikely, but eating garlic with gusto is a huge beauty DO if you want to protect yourself from coughs, colds, flu, and other unpleasant illnesses.
Garlic not only contains powerful toxin-battling antioxidants, but also hosts a naturally-occurring chemical called allicin, which reacts with the blood to create a product capable of killing off harmful bacteria and viruses. Biologists from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, USA, also found that eating garlic can be effective in lowering cholesterol, lessening blood pressure and protecting your heart.
If you’re feeling under the weather, try adding a couple of cloves to your evening meal – raw if possible.


Think pumpkins are only good for Halloween decorations? Think again – these members of the squash family are packed to the nines with beauty-boosting nutrients.
Pumpkin is a rich source of just about everything, from vitamins B5, C and E to hair-and-nail-strengthening alpha carotene, blood pressure reducing potassium, calcium, and , protein.
And that’s just the flesh. Eating the seeds too will provide your body with essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, skin-boosting zinc, more vitamin E and yet more protein. Stock up on pumpkin in autumn and try eating it roasted, mashed or blended into a tasty soup.

14) SOYA
There has been a lot of debate about the safety of eating soya, but most reputable sources believe that products made from soya beans – a staple ingredient in Japanese and Chinese diets for centuries – are great sources vitamins, minerals and proteins. Dr Weichselbaum agrees:
“Soy is a rich source of high quality protein, fibre and isoflavones and can reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. There has been some concern that soy could increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer as it contains phytoestrogens [a plant form of female hormone oestrogen]. However, a number of studies on soy also suggest that there could be a protective effect of soya on the development of cancer, but it is not clear yet.”


Do you sweat after eating spicy food? You may be surprised to learn that your perspiration has nothing to do with your meal being ‘hot’, but is instead a sign that your metabolism has significantly increased.
In fact, eating chilies such as cayenne peppers or scotch bonnets has been shown to boost your metabolic rate by up to 50%, which can help you to burn excess stores of fat faster.
A single chili also contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene (which is great for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails) and twice your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C – an essential antioxidant which assists the production of skin-firming collagen.
Not keen on spicy food? You can also buy supplements at a health food shop.


Contrary to popular beliefs, eating moderate portions of wholegrain carbohydrates at breakfast and lunchtime is a great way to stave off appetite cravings and increase your daily intake of antioxidants:
“Wholegrain foods tend to be higher in fibre which bulks out the diet and are low in fat,” says nutritionist Sara Stanner, of the Nutrition Society. “Fibre can also aid appetite control. So eating plenty of wholegrain foods can aid weight loss.”
“People who eat more wholegrain foods have lower rates of heart disease,” Sara continues. “This may be due to the fibre content of such diets, which tends to be higher, or some other nutrient in wholegrain foods, such as vitamin E or selenium, which are both antioxidants. Alternatively, it could also be that they are eating less of other foods that are bad for the heart, like foods high in fat. ”

They might not be the most fragrant of food types, but as with garlic, including onions in your meals can improve your health.
Onions contain a powerful natural chemical called quercetin, which can boost the immune system’s defences against bacterial infections and viruses, reduce inflammation and bloating in the body, ease digestion and detoxify the blood.
Add to this the lowering of cholesterol in the blood stream, the safe destruction of food poisoning bacteria E.coli and salmonella, and the lowering of blood pressure, and we’re all wondering why we don’t eat onions more often.

Ever wondered why you get pickled ginger with your sushi? There is a method to the madness – along with peppermint, the golden root is one of the best foods you can eat to aid digestion and fight inflammation in the stomach - which makes more a flatter tummy if it’s consumed as part of a balanced, low calorie diet.
Ginger is a powerful antioxidant, and can also help to stimulate your circulation, aiding detoxification, and cleansing the colon. Try slicing a small amount into a stir fry or opt for some ginger herbal tea for a great caffeine-free after-dinner drink.

Mushrooms are to vegetarians what steak is to meat-eaters – rich in vitamin B12, high in protein (which is almost the same quality as animal-derived sources) and iron, and one of the only non-animal sources of bone-strengthening vitamin D. Mushrooms are also a great source of niacin and selemin - a natural chemical that works with vitamin E to protect the cells from damage. They are also a good source of potassium:“Potassium is essential for water and electrolyte balance and the normal functioning of cells, including nerves,” Dr Weichselbaum explains. “Increased dietary intakes of potassium have been associated with a decrease in blood pressure and it is suggested that an increase in potassium intakes may offset the impact of some of the salt in the diet, therefore helping to protect cardiovascular health.”
Whether you eat meat or not, everyone can benefit from the low calorie, high antioxidant benefits of mushrooms. Try chucking a handful of shitake mushrooms in a clear, mellow soup, or swopping out a high-fat, meaty burger for a Portobello mushroom.

It makes up 70% of our bodies, and yet many of us still don’t drink enough. Not only does drinking your recommended eight glasses of water a day keep your brain hydrated and fully functional, but it also helps to replenish water the in cells throughout your body.

“Our body requires water to function properly and drinking enough water and other liquids is important for our health,” confirms Dr Weichselbaum. “However, drinking water alone will not be enough to boost your health and beauty – you also need to eat a healthy and varied diet, and be physically active. Remember, there is no single thing that will help you stay healthy and fit. It’s your overall lifestyle that counts!”