Fight wrinkles by including these foods in your diet - Appeal-Democrat

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Q: Can what you eat really improve your skin? Will any foods prevent lines and wrinkles and make my 45-year-old skin look younger? — Nancy, Bridgeport, Pa.

A: We're thrilled you've asked that question because feeding your face can help. Besides, it's way more fun to eat your way to youthful-looking skin than get (or pay for) Botox injections.

There's good evidence that midlife women with the most youthful-looking skin (fewer wrinkles, thinning and dryness) also have the most vitamin C in their diets. Makes sense, since vitamin C builds collagen, the support structure that keeps your skin's surface smooth.

Young-looking women also tend to eat less fat and fewer carbs and have higher levels of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found mainly in nuts and dark, leafy greens (think spinach, kale).

Ellagic acid, found primarily in pomegranate and red berries, is another food wrinkle-fighter. It's recently been credited with fighting aging inflammation from Mr. Sun and reducing collagen breakdown.

Here are other foods that will get to your face from your plate (we're not talking pie-throwing):

• Egg yolks, avocados, lentils, chickpeas and beans (including soybeans) ... all fight dryness.

• Salmon, which contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid that improves skin elasticity.

• Green tea, which provides anti-aging plant polyphenols that may help your skin when you drink it and apply it (some moisturizers contain green tea).

Q: Do plant sterols like the ones in some bread spreads really lower cholesterol? — Larry, New Castle, Del.

A: You bet. Using a plant sterol spread every day could knock down your lousy LDL cholesterol by 14 percent. Plus, people who regularly use these heart-helping spreads also have lower rates of lung, breast, stomach and prostate cancers.

Just don't put one big blob on your morning whole-wheat toast. Plant sterols do their job best in small doses, so spread 'em throughout the day (1 tablespoon of Smart Balance — a spread with more sterols than most — is about right).

Sterols are substances found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans that limit your body's ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Pair them with a cholesterol-fighting statin drug, and you'll kick down LDL by another 10 percent. That's big.

Q: Help! I've lost 26 pounds, but I've been stuck in a weight-loss plateau for six weeks. I haven't changed my diet or exercise habits. I'm determined to break through. But how? — Louise, Pittman, N.J.

A: Great for you! You've lost weight, hit a snag and still have that upward attitude about sending your weight downward. In our experience, a dieter who freaks out when the scale is as still as a statue is often ignoring other signs that her body is changing.

Are your clothes fitting better? Do you feel stronger? A "yes" means you're swapping out fat for lean muscle and building your cardiovascular fitness even if you're not dropping a pound.

There are some ways to unstick your stuck scale. You may need to challenge your body more, which means you'll have to work a little harder. No, it's not fair, but the less you weigh, the fewer calories you burn doing the same thing. Here's how to up the ante:

Walk a little longer. If you're walking 30 minutes a day, add five-minute increases over a couple of weeks.

Walk a little harder. Throw in some hills or kick up the incline on that treadmill. And add a few bursts of high-speed walking or jogging; the intensity helps burn fat.

Get a little stronger. Increase your strength training to one session every other day. No more than that, though; the in-between days are when you build muscle.

Choose smaller plates. Portion sizes get smaller, and that makes your waist smaller.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." To submit questions, go to

11 Sep, 2011

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