In our youth-obsessed culture, we're constantly being sold the latest lotions, potions, and lab-tested creams that promise to reverse the hands of time and inject our bodies with the boundless energy and beauty of our childhood. And while we're sure you are eager subscribers of many of these promises (and willingly hand over our credit cards too), your lifelong search for that elusive fountain of youth doesn't require an exploration of the world's most remote locations. Just open up your pantry.
Yes, that's right. In fact, you're most likely buying many of these anti-aging staples every week during your grocery run, while others have been relegated to the back of the pantry (remember those sunflower seeds you bought for a recipe?) and others are hiding in your fridge drawers somewhere (we see you, carrots). Well, it's time you put them to use. Why? Jess Barron, General Manager of Livestrong.com (who also informed us of the wellness trends that are in and out) told us these simple pantry staples contain powerful anti-aging properties (sometimes even more than those superfoods at your health food store) and should be incorporated into our daily diets.
Take a look below and see which common food items you already have at home. You might be surprised.
Common Anti-Aging Foods
Avocado has been a long-time ingredient in homemade facial masks, but Barrons says it's great for your skin when you eat it, too. "Avocado is an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps the skin repair itself," she said. "It's fat and liquid content also helps keep your skin moisturized and supple." Did you know that you can eat the avocado seeds too?
We have been long-time fans of their leafy green goodness for our health, and according to Barron, a diet that includes plenty of spinach will also lead to healthier skin. "Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse high in anti-wrinkle vitamins A, C and E," she said. "It’s the seventh most nutritious of all foods found on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI)."
These small seeds don't look like much, but their nutritional value really packs a punch when added to our daily diets. Why? Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. "Omega-3 fatty acids are known for increasing the speed at which skin wounds heal," said Barron. "They've also been shown to prevent the onset of wrinkles too. Additionally, flaxseed contains compounds known as lignans, which act as antioxidants." It's a total win-win.
You probably add them to your shopping cart as a weekly staple without thinking, but did you know carrots are superfoods? "Carrots are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that's converted to vitamin A inside the body," Barron said. "It helps repair skin tissue and protects against the sun's damaging rays. Carrots are the 12th most nutritious of all food on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI)." Who knew?
Also known as the "anti-wrinkle potato," this sweet orange-colored version is high in vitamins A and C. Barron tells us that carotenoids (the form of vitamin A found in sweet potatoes) stop wrinkles from forming by preventing the breakdown of collagen, according to the Academy of Dermatology. And sweet potatoes are the 18th most nutritious of all food on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).
These humble seeds are probably sitting at the back of your pantry still waiting for the day you'll incorporate them into that new muesli recipe or fruit and nut mix. Well, it's high time you brought them back to the front. "Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E and linoleic acid," said Barron. "As an antioxidant, vitamin E when combined with vitamin C, protects the skin from sun damage. People with high intakes of linoleic acid have fewer wrinkles." Convinced yet?
While most of you probably know about the health benefits of this berry, we're here to reiterate their anti-aging value. Blueberries have been touted as a superfood thanks to their high ANDI score (they sit at number 23). Why? "For one thing, they're packed with antioxidants (notably, vitamins C and E)," said Barron. "These antioxidants protect the tissues in your body and help to repair damage. Other berries, including blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are also rich in skin-friendly nutrients."
The Academy of Dermatology says we should include protein as part of a healthy diet for good skin. "In addition to omega-3 fatty acids (which protect against sun damage and also reduce inflammation in general), wild salmon is also an excellent source of protein," Barron said. Salmon is also high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been shown to protect the skin from sun damage and prevent the onset of wrinkles, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—here are 17 reasons why you probably need more omega-3s in your diet.
Who doesn't have canned tuna fish in their pantry? It's a common household staple and Barron says it has powerful anti-aging benefits. "Tuna contains 0.17 to 0.24 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving, along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps to reduce inflammation in the skin, and niacin," she said. "Test tube studies show niacin increases collagen production."
How to Integrate Them Into Your Diet
While some of these foods you may already be eating daily, some things, like sunflower or flax seeds, could prove a little trickier. Barron tell us a simple way to incorporate them into your diet is by substituting regular organic peanut butter for Nuttzo, an organic seven-seed butter. "It contains almonds, peanuts, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds so you get all the benefits of those different nuts," she said. "An easy snack that's great for your skin is baby carrots dipped in nut butter. I eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of Nuttzo with about 8 to 10 baby carrots. It's delicious."
For lunch or dinner, Barron often eats a meal of wild salmon, sweet potato, and steamed spinach. "It's the perfect healthy anti-wrinkle meal," she said. It's also a simple and nutrient-dense weeknight meal. The key is in the pre-prep. "I grill 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of salmon on Sundays, and I bake 3 to 4 sweet potatoes in the oven and steam up a batch of spinach," she said. "Then I portion them out into about 3 to 4 servings in containers and put them in the refrigerator to be used for lunch and dinner throughout the week." Genius.
For dessert, she recommends the Livestrong.com no-cook vegan dark chocolate pudding with a surprise ingredient—avocado. Here are more yummy avocado recipes.
Jess Barron's Blueberry Muffin Anti-Wrinkle Smoothie Recipe
"I eat a serving of avocado, spinach, flax seed and blueberries nearly every morning at breakfast," said Barron. Her Blueberry Muffin Anti-Wrinkle Smoothie is super simple to make for busy girls on the go. "You don't even taste the spinach, but you get all the vitamins," she adds.
Handful of spinach
3/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
1 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (choose a brand that doesn't contain thickening agent carrageenan)
1 tbsp. organic flax seed powder
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tsp. honey to sweeten (optional)
Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in a tall glass or cup-to-go. Enjoy.