While our love of kale still runs deep, we have a new superfood that's taking hold of our hearts (and our diets): blueberries. While not quite as exotic as açai and mangosteen, which have been dominating the headlines lately, these humble little berries are actually packed with skin-protecting agents.
"Blueberries are very nutritionally dense and contain powerful antioxidants, which protect our skin by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage skin cells," says dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad. "Blueberries are vascular constrictors, which assist in reducing redness for those who suffer from sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea, as well as help neutralize acne-prone skin. In addition, if you have blotchy, dry, dull, or sun-damaged skin, eating blueberries on a regular basis can help leave skin looking clearer, firmer, and more youthful looking."
So why, you might ask, can't you just slather a cream made of blueberries all over your face? Won't that give you the same benefits as sprinkling them over your morning cereal? According to Dr. Murad, you get more beauty benefits out of these health foods by ingesting them, rather than applying them. "The health of our skin is not only affected by what we put on it topically, but also what we ingest internally. This is because topical skin care products only address the 20% of your skin on the surface; the other 80% of your skin is affected by what you eat and drink."
So, what's the best way to add some blue (da ba dee da ba dah — ahem — sorry, couldn't help it) to your diet? Murad says you should already be eating at least three full servings of fruit a day, in addition to at least five servings of vegetables. He recommends eating them raw, to get the most nutritional value. Try freezing the blueberries and eating a handful of them as a snack, or sprinkling them on top of plain, sugar-free yogurt as a healthy dessert. Freezing them gives them a bit of crunch, which adds texture to a meal — it's like good-for-you candy!
Photo: Via Bartlett's Blueberry Farm