Pictured Recipe: Purple Fruit Salad
You've heard the old saying: Real beauty comes from the inside. You could say the same for good health. When you eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and find smart ways to manage stress—like trading a Netflix binge for a yoga class or long run in the park—you start to look and feel your best. Not sure where to start? Say hello to the five foods below. As part of a balanced diet, they're proven to help you lose weight, keep your heart going strong and promote healthy, younger-looking skin.
Pictured Recipe: Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Talk about a superfood! Compared to other whole grains, oats came out on top for lowering cholesterol, according to a 2015 review of more than 20 studies. Other research shows the feel-full fiber in whole-grain oats can help you eat less and lose weight; in one study, eating oats helped people trim their waists and lose overall body fat. And oats don't stop there—they help keep your skin healthy, too, with nutrients like copper, zinc and niacin. In fact, you don't even have to eat oats to gain their skin-calming benefits: People have used forms of oats for centuries as a topical treatment for dry, rough and itchy skin.
Pictured Recipe: Honey-Garlic Salmon
You've probably heard for years that when it comes to health benefits, salmon—and wild salmon in particular—is one fantastic fish. Here's one reason why: salmon contains astaxanthin, a type of antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Astaxanthin may be an anti-aging weapon, too—one 2014 study suggests it can help fight sun damage and make skin more supple. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that people who ate omega-3-rich fish (such as salmon) each week reduced the development of precancerous skin lesions by almost 30 percent. Salmon can help with weight loss as well—studies suggest their omega-3s can help reduce belly fat.
Related: How to Buy the Healthiest Salmon
Pictured Recipe: Blueberry Banana Smoothie (Batido)
These tasty little gems are higher in antioxidants than nearly any other food, delivering powerful heart-healthy benefits. In a Harvard study of more than 93,000 women, eating three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week was associated with cutting heart attack risk by more than 30 percent. And because antioxidants help prevent and slow sun damage, eating blueberries is a way to help your skin look younger, too. One more big blueberry perk: their fiber helps you feel full, so you eat less, potentially losing weight.
Related: The Best Way to Store Fresh Berries
Pictured Recipe: Avocado Hummus
Did you know that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier than those who don't? That's according to a 2013 study (funded by the Hass Avocado Board) of more than 17,000 people. The researchers found that the avocado eaters weighed less, had less belly fat and showed a much lower risk of metabolic syndrome—a group of symptoms that can lead to diabetes and heart disease—compared to the non-avocado fans. They also tended to eat more fruits and vegetables overall. We're betting they even had great skin: avocados are packed with vitamins C, E and K, all important for skin health. Plus, the healthy fat in avocados may help prevent wrinkles, while other nutrients help reduce sun damage.
Related: Healthy Avocado Recipes
Pictured Recipe: Pasta with Parsley-Walnut Pesto
It's true, walnuts are high in calories. But, they're also soaring in nutrients. Walnuts have more ALA, the heart-healthy omega-3 found in plants, than any other plant food. They're also high in protein and fiber, both of which can help you lose weight. Recently researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found another surprising way walnuts can help you shed pounds: by activating a part of the brain that helps control cravings. Want healthy, younger-looking skin? Walnuts can help there, too—their antioxidants slow aging, while vitamin E, zinc and selenium help nourish and protect.