We pick the brains of models day in and day out, trying to learn their elusive secrets. We hear a lot about eating clean and avoiding sugar, but rarely do we hear health tips from a model who also happens to have her degree in nutritional science. That’s exactly what we found in Alicia Rountree. The Mauritian model (she’s got the island hair and bronzed glow to prove it) is also a certified nutritionist and a restaurateur (talk about putting your knowledge into practice, right?), and she shared her best secrets with us.
The benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet are hardly a secret, but what are antioxidants, and what do they do? Antioxidants help combat damage caused by pollution, stress, and poor diet. Free radicals tend to speed up the aging process when it comes to our skin, and this is exactly what antioxidants help fight against. While there are numerous substances that can act as antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E are some of the most well-known. To help you plan your grocery list accordingly, read on for five antioxidant-rich foods that double up as anti-inflammatories and are also my personal favorites for keeping skin, nails, and hair looking healthy.
Blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants. They help with blood circulation in the body, especially in the head area, which stimulates hair growth. Wild blueberries, in particular, have been known to improve sun-damaged skin if eaten on a regular basis. The difference between wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries is that wild blueberries are not planted, but spread primarily by rhizomes or underground runners. Wild blueberries are thought to have a greater nutrient profile than their cultivated counterparts—the latter has a larger water concentration and less antioxidants cup-for-cup than wild blueberries. While wild blueberries aren't as widespread and accessible as cultivated blueberries—they're grown natively in Europe, northern Asia, Maine, New Jersey, and Canada—you can purchase them frozen in most grocery stores. They're great as a snack on-the-go and are a perfect addition to any smoothie.
Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of important nutrients. They contain vitamins A and C and manganese, which are all great for stabilizing blood sugar and promoting brain function. Another reason I love sweet potatoes is for their beta-carotene, which promotes eye health and works as a natural sunblock—great for keeping fine lines and wrinkles at bay.
Turmeric contains a miracle ingredient called curcumin. Made into a paste, it can temper acne flare-ups. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that remove excess oil from the skin and kill bacteria that cause pimples. Prepare a mask and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing off with warm water. Make sure to clean your hands and face properly afterward to avoid an orange tint.
Avocados are a healthy-fat powerhouse consisting of omega-3 fatty acids. The antioxidants in avocados help fight signs of aging and prevent inflammation in the skin (goodbye, puffiness!). They're high in vitamins E and B, which work at a cellular level to protect and strengthen our locks and nails.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are high in phytonutrients, which contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. The vitamin C in leafy greens helps to boost collagen production that in turn helps firm up skin. The antioxidants help keep hair strong, which means less breakage and additional protection against damaging sun rays.
Why have antioxidant protection stop at your diet? Read on for skincare rich in antioxidants.
Matcha is one of the most antioxidant-rich ingredients around, and it's put to good use in Peach & Lily's Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream ($40). A hero product from the brand that is ideal for dehydrated skin.
Context's Micro-Derm Regenerator ($35) is high in vitamins A, C, and E, which, according to Context founder David Arbuthnot, "combine to provide powerful antioxidant protection against the ravages of the sun by neutralizing and preventing free radical damage. They repair and protect skin from premature aging by naturally boosting collagen and elastin production, stimulating cell renewal, and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, while increasing healthy circulation."
For an easy boost of antioxidants, apply a few swipes of an antioxidant-rich toner, like Skin Laundry's Balancing Toner ($22) that's packed with aloe vera leaf and willow bark extract.
Up next, Rountree names five foods to stock up on for faster hair growth.