Beauty Food

When people say beauty comes from within, this is what they really mean.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
When people say beauty comes from within, this is what they really mean.
CLickRF, TPG/Click Photos
CLickRF, TPG/Click Photos

You’ve seen it scrawled across your Instagram feed, probably with some kind of blurred supermodel in the background: “Beauty comes from within.” Naww, tissue anyone? Well, before you start rolling your eyes, think of it as literal advice from your #sotrue-posting friends. Turns out beauty actually does come from inside - if you eat the right stuff. Unless you think a superfood is a croissant in a cape, you’ve probably heard that kalecoated blueberries dipped in avocado on salmon will give you a killer complexion. This may be true, but there are some other less obvious foods that can help give your face that “glow” everyone talks about.


Having graduated from the stinky stuff your parents made you eat to the side-serving you order at restaurants, cabbage has made a redeeming comeback. “Cabbage is part of the brassica family, which contains vegetables worthy of their superstar accolades,” says Dr Weaver. “They are potent sources of antioxidants, which help with cellular repair and contain substances that help the liver detoxify hormones, which is critical for clear skin.” Eating it can lower anxiety-inducing cortisol levels and prevent and diminish crow’s feet.


OK, stay with us. If you’re newly dating or within a one-metre radius of people, ever, onions are a food to be actively avoided. The thing is, eating onions – particularly the raw variety – not only bumps up your glow, thanks to the huge serving of antioxidant-rich flavonoids, it can protect your skin from damage. “Flavonoids help Vitamin C in its important function,” says nutritional biochemist and author Dr Libby Weaver ( “Research has proven that this is essential for keeping skin healthy and glowing,” she says.


Papayas are loaded with vitamins C and A, and they’re the best source of papain, a digestive enzyme that breaks down toxins (this helps reduce bloating). “Papayas are an excellent source of antioxidants, which have great anti-ageing properties, but also promote healthy new cell growth,” says Dr Weaver. Pop some in your morning smoothie for a treat for your skin and hair.


Strictly speaking, it’s the sesame seeds doing the good work, but when ground into a paste, they’re at their most delicious. Packed with zinc an d calcium, tahini helps renew skin cells. “Tahini contains minerals such as phosphorous and copper that support healthy skin, hair and nails,” says Dr Weaver.


Weird name aside, they’re the hulled kernels of a grain processed to produce the more common rolled oats. Groats are really high in fibre, flushing out toxins to smooth out cellulite. They also contain the mineral magnesium, which “acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes,” says Dr Weaver.

Foods That Fail Your Face

Refined Sugar

All right, so you know to put the donuts down, but refined sugar can turn up in random foods you wouldn’t expect it to. Pre-made pasta sauces, anything on a takeaway or restaurant menu and pre-packaged foods should be eyed with sugar suspicion.

Soy Milk

 Despite its wholesome image, soy milk can see your skin run into problems, such as rashes and inflammation, due to the high risk of an immune reaction.


 The table variety will wreak havoc on your looks and, taken to extremes, your life expectancy. Unrefined salt can be amazing for your health, but the bleached out, highly processed stuff is not only bad news for your skin, it’s dangerous for your heart health.

Deli Meats

Processed meats can give you wrinkles that you can’t pass off as smile lines. The high chemical levels can sabotage collagen production - the stuff you need for plump, smooth skin.