By Heaven Leigh of Bodhi Restaurant
It’s not all about goji berries and kale. Get your glow on with these often overlooked superfoods packed with nutrients and vitamins for spectacular skin, says Heaven Leigh, owner of Australia’s longest running vegan restaurant, Bodhi.
Here we are again. The weather is warming and we’re starting to shed clothes in the lead up to summer… and that means thinking about the state of the skin which we might have on show. Eep.
After all these months being hidden away under COVID housepants and winter layers, is your complexion a little on the dull side too?
As soon as the first blooms of spring arrive and spring produce is available, I switch my diet to foods packed with vitamin A, B and C, to promote healthy skin and support collagen. I make sure seasonal blood oranges and berries are in my everyday routine for antioxidants, while I dial up the leafy greens and water intake.
But it’s not all about goji berries and kale.
There are plenty of everyday, easy to access and eat foods which won’t break your bank balance and are versatile enough to be enjoyed in many ways – raw or cooked.
Here are four of my favourites.
Brain food – gut health – low calorie – hydrating
Did you know that while typically used as a vegetable, the often-overlooked eggplant, aka aubergine or brinjal, is actually a berry by botanical definition?
At 92% water, eggplants are an excellent source of dietary fibre and are low in calories, so they are great for keeping cravings at bay if you’re trying to keep your calorie count down. They’re also a good source of vitamins B1 and B6 and potassium, and vitamin C which is essential for glowing skin, protecting it from oxidative damage, and preventing fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.
Eggplants are also rich in antioxidants, specifically nasunin found in aubergine skin – which gives it its purple colour – which has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes.
There is a school of thought that raw eggplant can upset your digestive system as it contains solamine. So to be on the safest side, best to cook them.
Super versatile, eggplants are spongy and soak up flavours well, making them the perfect addition to broths and curries, as a mash to make dips, and they hold moisture well when baked. Skin and seeds can be eaten.
Combine half a cup of blended up eggplant, 2 tbsp aloe juice and 1 tsp coconut yoghurt. Spread on skin, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then wash off completely.
On the menu:
Finger eggplant | chili | sesame seed | sweet black rice vinegar | coriander | peanut | caramel sauce
Anti-aging – hydrating – destresser – brain food
A darling of plant-based dieters around the world, this fruit presents the full package of nutrients and benefits when it comes to healthy skin.
Packed with phytonutrients and rich in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat, avocados help with lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure, while feeding our brains with folate and copper. And to add to that, they’re good for your waistline, with a great source of both insoluble and soluble fibre to both keep you regular and control appetite by making you feel fuller longer.
And while the banana gets all the credit for being potassium rich, avocados actually have a higher potassium content than their yellow constituent, which assists in a range of essential body functions including blood pressure.
Avocados are also loaded with the anti-stress nutrient, magnesium, which helps release tension and promotes sleep.
What’s more, enriched with vitamin C and vitamin E, avocados support healthy skin and prevent it from free radical activity, which makes your skin age sooner. Avocados also contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that fight free radical formation and keep your skin taut. Plus, vitamins B and E protect hair strands from dryness and damage, control hair loss and repair scalp damage. And antioxidants like B-carotene, lecithin, and linoleic acid help moisturise your skin from within.
Combine 1/2 mashed avocado, handful of rolled oats and tsp lemon juice. Spread on skin, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then wash off completely.
On the menu:
Taro chips | avocado salsa | tomato| jicama| cucumber | pomegranate
Anti-aging – low GI – collagen forming – lowers blood pressure
No other fruit says summer quite like a mango. Fragrant, sweet, soft and juicy, they brim with goodness and sun-soaked energy.
Just one ripe mango provides up to three times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, vital in the formation of collagen which gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels.
Mangoes also provide more beta-carotene than any other fruit, a powerful antioxidant that can help fight the signs of ageing by assisting with the growth and repair of cells, tissues and skin.
A rich source of fibre, and high in energy and low in fat, they make a great low GI snack, as most of their energy comes from carbohydrate which is absorbed slowly into the body.
They also have plenty of copper to fight against free radicals, potassium for hydrated cells to moisturise the skin, and magnesium which helps to reduce oily skin and acne.
Mango face scrub:
Combine pulp of 1 mango, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp of plant-based milk. Gentle scrub your face with a small quantity, leave it on to dry, then wash off completely.
On the menu:
Lunch (yum cha) mango and vegan soy cream pancakes & mango pudding with fresh berries
Inflammation fighting – anti-aging – brain food
One of the easiest things to sprinkle into your diet – literally – is seeds. A great addition to smoothies, cereals, salads, desserts, or to enjoy as a snack, seeds are one of the richest sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help provide building blocks for healthy skin cell function and new collagen production to keep the skin foundation strong and wrinkle and acne free.
Chia, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds are the best for skin and can do wonders for your inner health.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are both rich in selenium to prevent wrinkles, vitamin E for moisture, and magnesium to fight stress.
With a cocktail of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9, hemp seeds offer antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties to help build strong hair, nails, muscle and skin, and reduce inflammation which can cause blemishes and wrinkles.
Chia seeds are very high in protein, compared to most plants. Protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient and can drastically reduce appetite and cravings.
Chia seed facemask:
Mix 2 tbsp of chia seeds, ½ cup of coconut oil and tbsp of lemon juice. Spread on skin, let it sit for 10 minutes, massage into skin to exfoliate, then wash off completely.