If you’ve just found us via Telegraph online – welcome to Kale & Cocoa! We believe in eating well to age well and are thrilled to be collaborating with the Telegraph again to spread the word about how more youthful skin can come from the inside out. You can read the full article here or a shorter version – with a recipe – below. And do sign up here for a regular updates and delicious recipes.
Would you believe me if I told you there was a simple way to age better – reducing the risk of dementia, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis? And wouldn’t it be great if the same simple method also led to fewer wrinkles? Well, it’s true! It’s all about eating well to age well – our mantra here at www.kaleandcocoa.com.
The great joy of eating well is that it works from the inside out. While a great diet helps our bodies to function optimally, it also strengthens skin, rebuilds collagen and powers us through later life. So it’s a win win.
For a clear example of how our internal health is literally written on our faces, consider this. A study of women in their late 40s and early 50s found that those with the deepest wrinkles and least elastic skin also had the lowest bone density. The wrinkles and crinkles were predictive of bone loss at all the commonly measured sites – hips, lumbar spine and heels – regardless of age, weight, height etc . Our bones are highly mineralised but they are still 50% collagen – that structural protein which keeps our skin bouncy – so it’s no surprise that the same raw materials support the formation of both skin and bone – and the same free radicals break them down.
As we age, our bodies – inside and out – are under attack from free radicals generated by sun exposure, pollution and unhealthy diets. Free radicals are essentially unhinged, lonely electrons, rampaging round our bodies looking for a new mate. And they don’t care if they break up other pairs of electrons in their quest for a partner. Scientists call this process oxidation – we are rusting, basically. This process damages our skin – and contributes to many other age-related degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. How do we fight back against this? You’ll have heard of anti-oxidants. These are the good guys: giving their own electrons to the free radicals who can then settle down and live happily ever after. So the more anti-oxidants we consume, the better.
Anti-oxidant is the term applied to a group of nutrients – in particular vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, flavonoids and selenium. In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about ‘superfoods’ – the foods which are particularly rich in these age-busting nutrients. The best sources of anti-oxidants are fresh fruit and vegetables – the more colourful the better. For example, the deep colour of blueberries, red peppers and red cabbage are all down to high concentrations of anthocyanins – a family of anti-oxidant pigments which may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Recent research has focussed on the power of individual foods which are particularly rich in anti-oxidants. Goji berries, maca, lucuma, baobab, spirulina and other exotic sounding ingredients have all had the thumbs up as particularly super superfoods. But – and this is the critical thing – there’s no point chomping on these if your diet is deficient in other areas. At Kale & Cocoa we prefer to think in terms of a ‘super diet’ – a way of life that incorporates the benefits of fruit and veg, whole grains and healthy fats to benefit our bodies. Then any superfoods we consume are the icing on the cake (as it were) – we’re not asking them to undo the work of a generally unhealthy diet. We add spirulina to smoothies, stir flaxseeds into baked goods and snack on Brazil nuts – but we know that looking better from the inside out is much more a way of life.
FIVE TOP TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR SKIN FROM THE INSIDE OUT:
- Add deeply coloured fruits and vegetables to every meal. Mix berries into your breakfast porridge (we rely on frozen ones ). Chop a range of veg like sweet potatoes, aubergine and red pepper into small cubes, toss in olive oil and seasoning and roast in a hot oven for around 40mins. Use in everything – top with a poached egg for a simple supper.
- Chow down on chia. We love these little seeds which swell up when soaked in water or milk. They are packed with omega-3, an essential fatty acid which helps nourish the skin. Try our super-simple chia seed parfait or chia pancakes.
- Say hello to soy – we avoid over-processed soya milk, but love edamame beans. Most big supermarkets sell them frozen and podded. We add to salads – like our pea and soybean salad – and soups because research shows soy may help heal some of the sun’s photo-ageing damage.
- Munch on millet – proof that not all superfoods are expensive. This gluten-free grain, traditionally fed to cattle and birds, is packed with the collagen-forming amino acids methionine and lysine. We use it instead of rice or quinoa and our millet pancakes are a firm family favourite.
- Chomp on (a little) dark chocolate – everyone’s favourite superfood – cocoa contains high levels of dietary flavanols which protect skin from sun damage and make it look smoother. See the recipe below for peanut and dark chocolate squares which (she says modestly) some of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.
PEANUT AND DARK CHOCOLATE SQUARES
- 180g rolled oats
- 250g peanut butter
- 12 medjool dates, pitted
- 60ml maple syrup
- 2 tbs coconut oil, melted
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
- a good pinch of sea salt – don’t skimp on this – really brings the flavours together
- 150g 70% dark chocolate, broken into squares
This recipe is so simple – no need to bake. Just blitz all the ingredients except the chocolate in a food processor until the mixture is sticky and clumps together when you pinch a small lump. Tip into a lined brownie pan and press down hard to smoothe it out. Place in the freezer while you gently melt the dark chocolate. Pour the chocolate over the top of the peanut mixture and chill until needed. Cut into small squares (it’s pretty rich) and enjoy!