On Valentine’s Day, many of us celebrate our choice to share our hearts and lives with a special someone, so what better time to celebrate American Heart Health Month than February! At U.S. Dermatology Partners, we want our patients to be healthy both inside and out, so for heart health month, our dermatologists have put together some dietary recommendations to help improve your heart health and keep your skin glowing.
Heart Healthy Foods that Make Your Skin Glow
If you’re trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, you can take comfort in the fact that many of the foods that are good for your heart are also great for your skin. Below, we discuss how some of the most heart-healthy foods impact your skin health.
Healthy Fish (the only time 3 is greater than 6!!)
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout, are great for heart health. Omega-3s diminish triglycerides and lower LDL cholesterol. Omega-3s are also essential to keep skin thick, soft, and moisturized. They also reduce inflammation, which can make skin more sensitive to sun damage and increase the risk for skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Like fish, healthy nuts, including walnuts and almonds, are chock-full of essential fatty acids. In addition to omega-3s, walnuts also have omega-6 fatty acids. A diet with too much omega-6 fatty acid can increase inflammation, and these fatty acids are more common in many diets. However, healthy nuts contain inflammation reducing omega-3s, which will often even out any potentially negative effects of excess omega-6s if your diet is already high in these fatty acids.
Magnesium and other compounds found in sunflower seeds can help to block an enzyme that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Sunflower seeds are also high in skin-healthy vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin E is easily the most important vitamin to protect skin from free radical damage and inflammation. Zinc is important to regulate the production of new skin cells. In short, adequate consumption of vitamin E and zinc can ensure your body produces healthy new skin cells regularly, maintaining even skin tone.
Red, Orange & Yellow Vegetables
Most vegetables are good for your health, but sweet potatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, and other red, orange, and yellow vegetables are packed with beta-carotene. This essential compound helps to lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Beta-carotene is also great for your skin. When consumed regularly, beta-carotene protects skin cells from sun damage and reduces the risk for skin redness and inflammation. THINK THE BRIGHTER THE BETTER!
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that contains a wide range of nutrients that are great for heart health, including vitamin C. One of the most common heart health conditions is atherosclerosis. This condition allows plaque, fats, and cholesterol build up on the artery walls leading to constricted heart pathways and increased blood pressure. Vitamin C is essential in combatting atherosclerosis and reducing LDL cholesterol. Vitamin C is also great for the skin. Your skin needs vitamin C in order to produce collagen that improves the healthy appearance of skin as well as improving skin elasticity.
Like other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C as well as alpha and beta-carotenes. Additionally, tomatoes are a good source of lycopene. This nutrient has been linked to increased Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD), which is an antioxidant enzyme that breaks down potentially damaging oxygen molecules. SOD is often utilized to reduce long-term heart damage following heart attack. Lycopene, like other anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, helps people reduce skin puffiness and avoid inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Dark Chocolate & Red Wine
If you’re looking for a great heart and skin healthy Valentine’s Day gift. Consider giving your Valentine dark chocolates and red wine. Both are high in antioxidants, and when consumed in moderation, they can increase HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels and improve the appearance of skin. Plus, they’re delicious, romantic Valentine’s Day gifts. It’s a win-win-win!
Anti-Inflammatory, Skin Healthy Foods with Heart
Many cardiovascular and heart health concerns stem from inflammation, and inflammation can also cause puffiness and uneven skin tone as well as an increased risk for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. For this reason, dermatologists often encourage a diet that focuses on anti-inflammatory nutrients. According to Dr. Jody Comstock, the U.S. Dermatology Partners Cosmetic Medical Director, sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet means, “You look and feel more refreshed, and most patients lose weight.” Additionally, Dr. Comstock says that following an anti-inflammatory diet can help patients have more energy to improve their exercise routine for heart health, by “getting patients out of their carb coma!!!!” Below, you’ll find some recommendations for easily following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Cut Out or Limit Dairy Consumption
Instead of dairy products, shift to coconut, almond, or flax milk, yogurt, and creamer. You can also try goat or sheep cheeses like Manchego and feta instead cheeses made from cow’s milk. Milk chocolate often has a dairy component while higher grade dark chocolate does not!
Try Adding a Vegetable-Based Protein Powder
Vegetable-based protein powders added to one drink each day can help you feel fuller as well as providing other essential nutrients to the diet. If you’re increasing work out time, vegetable-based protein powder can help replenish nutrients lost as you sweat. Many protein powders have whey, which is dairy, as their protein or soy, which is also inflammatory as their protein source. Read the labels carefully!
Switch Peanuts for Healthier Options
Peanuts are actually not nuts at all. They’re legumes. Instead of eating peanuts and peanut butter, substitute healthier nut options like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Almond butter, often found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, is a great alternative to high sugar peanut butter. Better yet, grind whole almonds for pure almond butter without additives!!
Reduce Gluten Consumption
Limit or reduce your consumption of pasta, bread, and other glutens. Instead, substitute gluten-free products like corn, quinoa, or rice pastas, breads, and tortillas. Many prepackaged brands now offer gluten-free options. Check the packaging for the gluten-free designation. If you’re baking at home, you can look for rice flour and other substitutes to reduce gluten in any bread, cake, or other foods you bake.
Avoid Processed Sugars
Sodas, juices, candies, and a number of other products contain processed sugars. These sugars are bad for your heart and skin as well as your whole-body health. Completely cutting out all candies and sodas may not be easy, but if you take steps to start reducing your intake of these foods and beverages, you will likely see an immediate improvement in your health and appearance.
Contact U.S. Dermatology Partners to Learn More
If you want to learn more about how diet impacts your skin health or you need help from one of our skilled dermatologists, it’s time to contact U.S. Dermatology Partners. With more than 90 locations nation-wide, there is a U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you. To find our nearest office, take a few moments to complete our online appointment request. We can’t wait to hear from you.