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Eat Pretty

by Jolene Hart
What’s in your spring beauty basket? OSM contributor Jolene Hart tells us what to eat this season to nourish our beauty.
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Starting your day with organic lemon squeezed into a glass of water is a great detoxifier for the liver and the skin. Photo by Robin Jolin

Spring beauty foods are fresh, green, light, and packed with natural detox abilities. Eat pretty with the newness of the season by filling your diet with these crisp greens, spicy bulbs, aromatic herbs, tender shoots, and juicy berries, all of which will restore youth and energy to your beauty and body in the months ahead.

ARTICHOKE  Peeling away the leaves of an artichoke bite by bite is a lovely way to savor its fresh, spring beauty and anticipate its decadent, nutrient-packed heart. The artichoke is an ideal spring beauty veggie. Its high fiber makes it a highly cleansing food, as does its phytochemical silymarin, which supports both liver and gallbladder health. Artichokes stimulate bile production in the liver, aiding in detox and the digestion of fats. They’re a diuretic food that prevents bloating and eases digestion all-around, making them a recommended food for tummy troubles like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As a beauty food, they rank high for their support of healthy levels of glutathione, an extremely powerful
antiaging nutrient.

ARUGULA  Here’s an easy way to rev up your antiaging capacity and your digestion at the same time: eat arugula. The sulfur-containing glucosinolates in arugula, when chopped or chewed, release other phytochemicals that lower inflammation, protect cells from DNA damage, reduce skin redness caused by the sun, and defend against UV damage. This powerful protection extends for several days after eating! Arugula is rich in vitamin K for strong bones and fewer dark circles, and it’s packed with chlorophyll. Peppery arugula is also a detox booster; add some to spring salads to celebrate this season of cleansing.

ASPARAGUS  These slender spring veggies are more powerful than they look, with about 15 percent of your daily iron in just a few stalks. Asparagus is one of the best foods in the world for folate, a B vitamin that is important for DNA synthesis and cell repair. For beauty, the glutathione levels in asparagus are especially exciting, since glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidant defenders in our
antiaging diet. Glutathione is a special protector of our mitochondria, which increase the energy and oxygen-carrying capacity of our blood. Glutathione levels decline with age (starting as early as 30!), so we need to eat as many glutathione-boosting foods as we can to look and feel youthful and radiant. This spring, eat asparagus raw or lightly steamed (dip it in tasty hummus) for the highest glutathione levels.

COCONUT A natural powerhouse, coconut brims with beauty benefits, from oil to water to meat. Coconut water is a fantastic fluid for electrolyte, or mineral, balance (far better than a sports drink), since it contains potassium, magnesium, and sodium, plus small amounts of zinc, copper, and selenium. Proper electrolyte balance means that your heart delivers oxygenated blood efficiently throughout your body, setting your skin aglow. Selenium is an important antiaging mineral that maintains skin elasticity and a healthy scalp, while zinc keeps hair and nails gorgeous and immunity strong. On a day when you’re looking and feeling just a bit lackluster, treat yourself to a young coconut for a special beauty elixir. You can distinguish young coconuts from the common, dark brown variety by their white husks and cylindrical shape with a pointed top.

DANDELION GREENS  Chowing down on greens that are traditionally seen as weeds may seem odd to some, but in-the-know beauties will attest to the major detox benefits of dandelion greens. Want clearer, brighter skin? Dandelion is traditionally used as an acne and eczema remedy. Some of its skin benefits come from its liver and kidney support and overall digestive boosting abilities. Additional benefits come from its content of vitamin A; a handful of dandelion greens has over 100 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. Dandelion greens also have diuretic properties that reduce bloating. Dandelion greens are bitter, so I suggest tossing a handful into a green smoothie, or mixing them up with other greens in a salad. That bitter flavor is a reminder of their cleansing properties! For another way to enjoy the beauty benefits of dandelion, check out earthy dandelion root tea.

ENDIVE  One small head of this crunchy, mildly bitter type of chicory provides twice your daily needs for skin-smoothing vitamin A, which could explain its traditional use as an acne tonic. Its role in liver detox and bile production also makes it a major boon to a clear, gorgeous complexion. Endive is a mild laxative that’s excellent for digestion. It also promotes overall health of the ovaries: Eating endive has been shown to help reduce the risk of many types of cancer, including breast, lung, and ovarian, thanks to a detoxifying phytochemical called kaempferol. With a water content of over 90 percent, endive is very low in calories relative to the powerful dose of beauty nutrition you’ll get in every bite.

GARLIC  Garlic is off the charts for its anti-inflammatory value, exactly what you want for preventing disease (including cancer) and quelling beauty issues like acne and skin sensitivity. Allicin, a sulfurous phytochemical that gives garlic its distinctive taste and smell, fights off signs of aging by protecting a powerful enzyme that stops the action of other collagen-digesting enzymes in the body. Garlic, with its antibacterial and antifungal properties, supports your healthy intestinal flora, which is vitally important for the absorption of beautifying nutrients. Garlic boosts circulation, and supports the production of detoxifying glutathione in the body, keeping your antiaging defenses in top form. To get the most from every garlic clove, let it sit for about 15 minutes after crushing or chopping to allow its powerful compounds to activate.

GREEN BEANS  Green beans, or string beans, are sources of highly absorbable silicon, which strengthens connective tissue and keeps your skin, hair, and nails flexible and strong. These anti-inflammatory veggies also contain an impressive range of antiaging phytochemicals, from sun-protective carotenoids and quercetin to free radical–fighting catechins. They’re good sources of hair- and nail-building minerals like iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, as well as manganese, an important nutrient for building bones and connective tissue.

LEMON  If you’re an Eat Pretty eater, lemons are one fruit that you’ll always have in your kitchen. They’re said to be freshest and best tasting in early spring, a season when your body craves the powerful alkaline detoxification boost that their juice provides. You probably know that lemons are chock-full of collagen-building vitamin C, but they’re also rich in immune-boosting bioflavonoids (found in highest concentration in the pith and rind). Bioflavonoids boost lymph flow and strengthen blood vessels, aiding in the prevention of varicose veins. Lemons are liver-loving beauty foods with astringent properties that clean out the digestive tract, stimulate bile and saliva, and cleanse the blood. Lemons also have diuretic and laxative effects, so they help you maintain a flat belly all day.

Excerpted from Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart. Copyright © 2014 by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Eat Pretty may be purchased at ChronicleBooks.com.

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