Why Your Skin Is Practically Begging For Greasy, Canned Fish

Canned seafood is convenient, cheap, and actually some of the more sustainable seafoods you can buy. And science says you can get the skin-boosting benefits from a tin!
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Publish date:
April 7, 2014
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Tags:
sun damage, nutrition, vitamins, fish, omegas, zinc, iron, selenium, vitamin B12

Have you ever had science rise up and
back up some of your folk wisdom? That moment when the weird thing you’ve been
doing for ages turns out to be totally legit?

It feels. So. Good.

Some things just make good, common
sense. Washing your face with alcohol
and tanning--both practices that were once considered healthy," genuinely lack
any sort of logic. Why would frying your skin make you look thinner or
younger? Does anyone even know who is in charge here?

But I have certain ideas about health and
beauty that I have never strayed from. Drinking just water, all the time, is
the key to everything. I’ve moisturized, every day, since I was 17 because it helps keep wrinkles at bay. And I’ve always believed that how well I ate was
directly reflected in my skin.

What’s the skin food I think of before
green juices, plump cherry tomatoes, rainbow chard and apples? Oily fish.

It’s
like a supplement for resilient, healthy skin. We’re talking salmon, ahi, tins
of sardines, oysters or clams, packed in olive oil. Kind of like wet cat food,
but a little more expensive. And oh-so-delicious. It might be a life-long
obsession with anything marine-related, but I always just FELT like oysters and
sardines were health food.

It’s a habit I picked up from my mother,
and her gross British affinity for tinned sea-meats. She and I would frequently split tins of smoked baby
clams or oysters when I was a kid. It was a weird, silent bond that we had.
Kind of the way people that enjoy kimchi feel when they’re together.

Certain seafoods contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as selenium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. This is
exciting because most people have a hard time getting enough of these fats,
vitamins and minerals, and they are all linked to skin conditions and
skin regeneration.

Alaska is great for the pescatarian, but I know that not everyone has the
option of going and scooping big, fat beautiful salmon out of a river, and
seafood prices seem to be climbing upward for eternity. That’s why I still love
the tinned fish and shellfish so hard. Tinned seafood is convenient, cheap, and
actually some of the more sustainable seafoods you can buy. And science says you can get the skin-boosting
benefits from a tin!

I
get it, fish in a can is a hard sell. Even worse--cheap fish. But trust me on
this, tinned fish can be as snooty as caviar or as rank as Surströmming.

Start out with simple sardines, before wading into the good stuff, like anchovies and
oysters. Try some bristling sardines mashed up with some lemon and garlic on
good crusty bread with some brie and a good Malbec. Or maybe smoked baby clams
with Sriracha and shoyu. My personal favourite: sardines chopped up atop some spring greens, dried figs, feta,
olives, fresh garlic, lemon juice and capers.

Most people’s diets are deficient in
certain vitamins and minerals, so we compensate by taking processed
supplements, even though recent studies have
suggested
that the benefits of taking
micronutrients in pill form are few. Another problem with supplementing instead
of eating your vitamins and minerals: it’s easy to overdose, causing serious
health problems.

Omega-3, zinc, selenium, B12, and iron
are all found in very high concentrations in shellfish and oily fish, and they
might be the key to youthful-looking skin. Here's the breakdown:

B12: Vitamin B12 is responsible for carbohydrate conversion
and cell regeneration--it’s absolutely essential, yet it’s one vitamin that
we’re epidemically deficient in. Low B12 intake can be directly correlated to chronic fatigue, prolonged illnesses and slow healing time for cutaneous
injuries like acne, sunburn and dry skin. Vegans and vegetarians are
especially at-risk for deficiency, which is why they generally love nutritional
yeast with burning passion. Seriously, I dare you: ask a vegan about
nutritional yeast.

Selenium:
A trace mineral, selenium protects your skin from sun
damage
,
and works as a powerful antioxidant. Even though you only need a small amount
of selenium in your diet, deficiency has been linked to skin conditions like
psoriasis and eczema. Selenium is also found in Brazil nuts and sunflower
seeds, so rest easy, those with food allergies and aversions.

Iron:
Did you know that iron deficiency is one
of the leading causes of hair loss? Or that iron supplements are oft prescribed
for poor circulation? Iron is key to maintaining your immune system and
metabolism, and therefore key for growing out your hair and nails. Unless
you’re an avid meat-eater, you’re probably low on iron, just because it can be
tough to eat enough: 2 cups of sun-dried tomatoes have just 9mg of iron, while
⅓ cup of smoked baby clams have 24mg. It should also be noted that 1 cup of dark chocolate
contains 23 mg of iron--clearly a health food.

Omega-3:
Everything is omega-3-fortified these
days, and while that’s awesome, there’s nothing like getting it from the
source. Salmon, mackerel and herring have the highest concentrations of omega-3
fatty acids, which both help keep your body hydrated, and have strong
anti-inflammatory effects. Several studies have shown that eating a diet high
in Omega-3 can help alleviate adult acne
and seborrheic dermatitis. A common marker of omega-3 deficiency is keratosis
pilaris
.

Zinc:
If you have any kind of scarring or acne
issues, you need to be getting enough zinc! Zinc not only speeds up healing of
blemishes, but also reduces inflammatory response, and in effect, scarring.

Would you eat tiny tinned fish in the
name of beauty? Have you been successful in either supplementing or eating well
for better skin and hair? Do you eat anything weird in the name of beauty? I feel like my skin starts going south
immediately if I’m not eating enough greasy fish or raw vegetables.