If someone told you there were eight foods that could make you more beautiful and help you feel a lot healthier, you’d want to eat up, right?
Consider this your grocery list.
Problem: Thin, Dry Hair
Fix: Green Tea
The benefits of green tea keep piling up, and here’s another one: The caffeine in tea slows the production of a chemical that shrinks hair follicles and results in thinner strands. He recommends two to three cups of tea daily. (Coffee drinkers, your morning cup of java can have the same effect.) But if you’re plagued with dry, flaky scalp or hair loss, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough zinc. Meet your 8 milligram daily quota with a variety of zinc-rich foods like crabmeat, yogurt, baked beans, green peas and pumpkin seeds.
Fix: Milk or Cheese
When women don’t get enough calcium, they may experience more severe cramps, mood swings and bloating. Research found that 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day (the amount in about two slices of Swiss cheese plus a glass of skim milk and a yogurt) can cut premenstrual symptoms by as much as 48 percent. If you tend to get headaches during your period, you may be low in magnesium. A quarter cup of almonds or cashews can help you meet up to 30 percent of your day’s needs for the mineral.
Problem: A Bad Mood
Fix: Healthy Carbs
When you’re blue, you probably crave sweets, and there’s a biological reason why: Simple carbs prompt the brain to secrete serotonin, the calming hormone that can ease stress and depression. But after the initial spike in mood, sugary treats set up the body for a blood sugar crash that can make your bad mood worse. A better food group for a boost in spirits: complex carbs like chickpeas, lentils and whole-grain bread.
Fix: Fish or Walnuts
What you don’t want: anything made with white flour, especially refined, processed carbs like white bread and sugary cereals. (One study found that these foods triggered more breakouts than a diet rich in fish, fruit, whole grains and legumes.) What you do want: Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help control inflammation throughout the body, including inflammatory acne. That means halibut, walnuts, flaxseeds—and especially salmon.
Problem: Splitting Nails
We think of nails as one layer, the one that gets buffed and painted during a mani. But your nails are actually made up of layers of a protein called keratin—and eating protein may strengthen those layers. If your nails are weak, for a lot of women, the easiest fix is protein. Researchers from the University of North Carolina who studied the growth of big toenails (no, we’re not kidding) found that nail growth rates have increased by almost 25 percent since the 1930s, possibly because protein-rich foods are more available. But some women today still don’t get enough because of chronic dieting. Most of us require between 45 and 65 grams per day, so try to eat some protein, like lean beef, poultry, fish or nuts, at every meal. Don’t forget breakfast: Just two eggs provide 12.5 grams—roughly 20 percent of your daily requirement.
Problem: Bad Breath
Fix: Plain Yogurt
Breath mints may be a quick fix, but they don’t combat the main cause of bad breath—a buildup of bacteria on your tongue, in between your teeth and in the back of your throat (often caused by food left behind from not brushing thoroughly enough). In fact, if your breath mint contains sugar, it’ll actually feed those microbes and can make odor worse in the long run. But Japanese research has found that eating plain, sugar-free yogurt may help get rid of the stinky sulfur compounds.
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