The Spring Beauty Diet

Want more beautiful skin and hair? Celebrate the warm weather with regular visits to your local farmers market. If winter is the season for bundling up in cashmere and braising rich stews and hearty soups, then spring is the time to not only brighten up our wardrobes, but also sate our palates with a colorful bounty of fruits and vegetables.

“Eating off the vine and onto the plate offers the best flavor and optimal nutrition,” explains nutritionist Jackie Keller, author of Body After Baby: A Simple, Healthy Plan to Lose Your Body Weight Fast. “And it’s widely known that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats will benefit the appearance of your hair, skin and nails.”

So as we spring forward, lighten your load, leave behind those heavy foods and fats, and do some spring dietary cleaning by indulging in these healthy and delicious fresh foods.

“When it comes to vitamin C, don’t just think oranges. Consider strawberries too,” says nutritionist Christine Avanti, author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food: Kick Your Fake Food Habit, Kickstart Your Weight Loss. These delicacies not only taste great, but are also loaded with skin-enhancing vitamin C, which, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may help ward off wrinkles by promoting collagen synthesis and production. Added bonus: Vitamin C’s load of antioxidants brightens skin by mopping up free radicals produced from too much sun exposure.

With its high calcium content, spinach helps thicken hair and strengthen nails. And with vitamin C and A to boot, it helps the hair follicles produce sebum -- the body’s natural hair conditioner that adds shine and strength while preventing dry, brittle hair. “A strawberry and spinach salad is a killer vitamin C combination that tastes great,” says Keller.

There are just 25 calories in eight medium-sized asparagus spears, but that’s enough to provide a full quarter of your recommended intake of vitamin A, a vitamin that’s essential to the maintenance and repair of healthy skin. And since asparagus is 90 percent water, the elegant veggies will help keep you hydrated. “Good hydration is fundamental to skin health and appearance,” explains Keller. As a diuretic, asparagus is also a natural way to get rid of unwanted bloat.

Who doesn’t love peeling away artichoke leaves to get to the heart? Rich in the family of vitamin B’s like folate, artichokes aren’t just good for the heart; the folate also helps encourage healthy hair growth and skin rejuvenation by promoting cell turnover. Keller recommends eating artichokes with low-fat or fat-free yogurt instead of butter so you can take advantage of dairy’s calcium, without extra calories or saturated fat.

Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids and biotin, which help prevent dry skin and brittle hair and nails. “They help keep the skin youthful,” says Avanti. And since avocados are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, they are anti-inflammatory
wonders for heart health and circulation too.

Kale, Cantaloupe and Carrots
Want a more attractive hue to your skin? Sure, a pink blush can help, but for a glow that won’t rinse away with your nightly cleanser, try adding a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies to your diet. A new study done in Scotland found that eating foods that are rich in beta-carotene and lycopene led to a rosier skin tone among college students. What’s more, other people rated their skin as more attractive at the end of the six-week study. For the greatest skin boost, fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Dermatologists say every color has its own health- and beauty-boosting benefits!