Eating nutritious foods with lots of nutrients and antioxidants, or special functional foods can help you feel (and look) more vibrant by keeping your skin and hair healthy. And eating a healthy diet -- along with some exercise -- helps to keep your body strong and fit.
Start with the basics -- eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, low-fat dairy, whole grains and a few good fats (and know how many calories you need every day).
Then add these sexy super foods, which are extra high in certain nutrients, to your healthy diet:
Non-fat Yogurt: Dairy products are rich in vitamin A that is important for beautiful skin, and calcium for strong bones and healthy hair. People who eat dairy products every day appear to have an easier time losing excess weight and keeping it off. Non-fat yogurt has all the benefits of dairy, plus the friendly bacteria found in yogurt are probiotics that help keep your digestive system working normally.
Tip: Enjoy some plain non-fat yogurt mixed with fresh blueberries, chopped nuts and a little honey for additional protein and vitamins.
Oranges: Citrus fruits contain lots of vitamin C. Eating an orange gives you all the vitamin C your body needs for a day, plus it helps to increase absorption of iron from vegetables and legumes that your body needs for energy. Vitamin C also helps keep your skin beautiful by keeping the connective tissue under the skin strong, which helps to stave off wrinkles.
Tip: Eat an orange every day as a healthy snack or drink orange juice with meals. And perhaps hand-feed a few slices to your significant other?
Berries: The beautiful pigments that give berries their colors also contain phytochemicals that boost the antioxidant activity in your skin, which may help you age more gracefully. Blueberries and cranberry juice may help prevent bladder infections. Berries are also low in calories and rich in vitamin C and potassium.
Tip: Make a fruit smoothie with a banana, plain yogurt, frozen blueberries, sliced strawberries and a splash of cranberry juice. Or dip a few fresh strawberries in dark chocolate for a romantic treat.
Salmon: Fish contain essential fats and protein that are essential for healthy skin and hair. Salmon is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids that protect your skin from getting dry by keeping moisture in the skin cells.
Tip: Go out for salmon sashimi at a romantic sushi restaurant, or grill a salmon steak at home.
Oysters: Legendary as aphrodisiacs, oysters may live up to their sexy reputation. They're rich in zinc, a mineral that's important for male sexual health, testosterone levels and sperm production. Zinc is also important for healthy hair and for your senses of taste and smell.
Black Beans: Legumes contain protein, iron and zinc. Black beans are also a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that's important for healthy skin and hair.
Tip: Serve black beans as a side dish with dinner.
Walnuts: Nuts contain polyunsaturated fats, and walnuts are rich in alpha linolenic acid, the plant version of omega-3 fatty acids. They're also a good protein source and eating just a few walnuts helps to keep you feeling satisfied between meals. Some research studies have suggested that the phytochemicals in walnuts help keep the prostate healthy in older men.
Tip: Eat a handful of walnuts with a fresh piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and a phytochemical called lycopene, a relative of vitamin A that helps keep a man's prostate healthy. Lycopene is thought to skin damage from too much sun exposure and getting adequate amounts of lycopene may help to keep your skin smooth and supple.
Dark Chocolate: You may believe that eating chocolate improves your mood. Research isn't clear on that, but dark chocolate may have a little super power. The phytochemicals in dark chocolate could possibly improve blood flow to all the parts of your body, including the brain and the sexual organs, which is an important component of arousal. Is dark chocolate good for your heart?
Tip: Enjoy one ounce of dark chocolate (not Dutch-processed) every night.
Water: Although water isn't really a nutrient, it's important for your health -- your body contains a lot of water. Not only is water good for your insides, it's also important for smooth healthy skin. Plus water has no calories so it's perfect for watching your weight.
Tip: Drink water with a slice of lemon or lime instead of sugary soft drinks.Sources:
Zemel MB, Richards J, Mathis S, Milstead A, Gebhardt L, Silva E. "Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects." Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Apr;29(4):391-7.
Spaccarotella KJ, Kris-Etherton PM, Stone WL, Bagshaw DM, Fishell VK, West SG, Lawrence FR, Hartman TJ. "The effect of walnut intake on factors related to prostate and vascular health in older men." Nutr J. 2008 May 2;7:13.
Darvin M, Patzelt A, Gehse S, Schanzer S, Benderoth C, Sterry W, Lademann J. "Cutaneous concentration of lycopene correlates significantly with the roughness of the skin." Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2008 Aug;69(3):943-7.
Williams S, Krueger N, Davids M, Kraus D, Kerscher M. "Effect of fluid intake on skin physiology: distinct differences between drinking mineral water and tap water." Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Apr;29(2):131-8.
Taubert D, Roesen R, Lehmann C, Jung N, SchÃƒÂ¶mig E. "Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial." JAMA. 2007 Jul 4;298(1):49-60.