Repeat after me: In skin care it’s all about being wholistic. Eating a wholesome diet and getting enough movement as well as sleep. It’s not about expensive products. Skin care starts from the inside out. Did you ever notice you get cravings for certain foods? I for one crave green tea or blueberries and at such times, I suspect my body is trying to replenish its empty antioxidant reservoirs. At least that’s much healthier than the sudden bangs for ice cream.
Blueberries are being overlooked when we think of super foods. Kale, spinach, or grapes are first mentioned because they’re known for their levels of antioxidants. While not as exotic as the açai berry or as down to earth as broccoli, blueberries are loaded with skin protecting and health enhancing nutrients. They help you look and feel healthy. Besides, they’re easy to find on supermarket shelves all year round.
So what makes them so powerful that they help ward off everything from high cholesterol and blood pressure to cardiovascular disease and improving vision as well as
- Effectively protect against skin ageing
- Evening out skin tone
- Clearing skin?
Blueberries are super food
Did you know blueberries have higher levels of antioxidants than grapes? Research found that they contain one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits.
After researchers found a way to cultivate blueberries in the early 1900s, they’re grown for commercial purposes everywhere, most notably in North America and Europe but also in Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. Before that, they could only be found in the wild.
When unripe, the blueberry are pale greenish and turn reddish-purple to its characteristic dark blue hue when ripe. Then they typically taste sweet with a slight tartiness.
Although these fruits are tiny, measuring only about 1cm in diameter, they punch well above their weight. They’re a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre. Eating just one cup of fresh blueberries will cover your daily recommended allowance (RDA) of
- Vitamin C at 24% RDA
- Vitamin K at 36% RDA
- Manganese at 25% RDA
It also packs a hefty dose of phytonutrients. These are chemicals that a plant produces. Blueberry phytochemicals include anthocyanins, quercetin, and myricetin.
What does science say?
The blueberry has earned its moniker as super fruit or super food because its composition makes it so. It contains many powerful phytonutrients that were proven to be effective and beneficial in maintaining good health.
If there’s one nutrient that the blueberry is known for, it’s the phytochemical anthocyanins. They belong to the family of polyphenols called flavonoids.
Anthocyanins are compounds that give the blueberry its rich dark blue colour. These phytochemicals are water-soluble and react to the PH level of the fruit. This is the reason why when the fruit is unripe it’s green and during its ripening process, when acidity levels fall, it turns red until when it’s ripe its colour is indigo. Besides acting as pigments, these anthocyanins are also responsible for
- Attracting pollinators
- Acting as a sunscreen
- Warding off free radical damage
Why is everyone so obsessed with antioxidants?
Why is skin care (as well as health conscious people) so obsessed with antioxidants? In short, they can help combat the damaging effects of oxidation processes. That is when oxygen molecules are released during metabolic processes and these can damage vulnerable compounds and cells as they seek a free electron to make them more stable.
For your health, it means it can help lower blood pressure, as well as decrease inflammation in your body and so lower the risk of cancerous cells growing.
As for your skin, they keep the free radicals at bay that would otherwise contribute to your skin becoming loose or wrinkled. The free radical could damage your skin through the oxidation process. The main antioxidant in blueberries is anthocyanin, but it also contains two other important antioxidants, quercetin and myricetin.
When eaten, the antioxidants can give you the same protection from free radicals. When you increase the number of substances that can absorb and neutralise free radicals, you can prevent them from triggering a chain reaction that in the end can damage and break down cells, such as collagen, elastin, and other components of the extracellular matrix. Think loose, saggy skin.
Other benefits for your skin
Now you may be asking, is that all? Other fruits and veggies also have antioxidants and other nutrients. What makes blueberries so special that they became a skin care staple?
Well, besides being packed with antioxidants, blueberries also contain vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that make your skin glow. You can think of the antioxidants as the armour for your skin. It helps to protect it against environmental stressors such as sun or cigarette smoke.
They work to lower inflammations and collagen break-down caused by sun exposure. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, blueberries tend to have a calming and soothing effect on the skin, and also help reduce redness or swelling.
Blueberries contain salicylates. These are a derivative (a salt) of salicylic acid. You may recall that salicylic acid is a classic ingredient in acne products. Thanks to the anthocyanins and other antioxidants, it’s also both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, which are helpful with spots.
Evening out skin tone
Just because you got spots doesn’t mean you need to arrange yourself with the aftermath. You also don’t need to wrangle with age and sun spots. Blueberries contain vitamin C that help fade away blemishes and dark spots.
Vitamin C is, on the one hand, a lightening and on the other an exfoliating agent, so blueberries can help to gently exfoliate away the dead skin cells, lift out impurities, and even out mild skin discolourations.
Banishing the appearance of splotchy skin
Eating blueberries is linked to everything from lower cholesterol to improving better heart health. In the case of heart health, that’s largely contributed to them helping with circulation and your overall wellness.
Now we all know healthy skin needs good circulation so that it gets the oxygen and nutrients to repair itself and for growing new cells.
Besides the now very often mentioned antioxidants, blueberries also contain vitamin C (also mentioned) and K. Both are key for skin healing. Once you get a small tear, cut, or blemish – that is once your skin is damaged, it gets inflamed and experiences oxidative stress. The individual nutritional components already have powerful healing potential, but in combination, you end up with a super protective agent for your skin.
Before you go off and buy blueberries, you may want to temper your expectations. While the blueberry is a super food and highly beneficial both for your health and skin (your health shows on your skin), you need to eat a lot, and I really mean a lot. Some studies suggest as much as one cup a day.
Personally, I’d get tired very fast of eating the same thing every day. But that’s also why it’s important to eat a balanced and varied diet. The best is to eat the rainbow diet.
The good thing though with blueberries as compared with açai berries is that they’re more easily found in your grocers. In some regions, you may even be so lucky and get them all year round.
And of course, just as with strawberries, you can also apply blueberries to your face too. You can apply it straight onto your skin, where you need it, while eating them is for your overall health.
Applying it to your skin can also be a good idea when it’s hard for you to find or afford a cup of blueberries every day. With that, I leave you with a face pack to clear up your skin.
- A pinch of turmeric
- 1 tea spoon of honey
- 1 table spoon of mashed blueberries
Mix it well together and apply it where you need or want it. After 20 minutes, rinse it off.