As the skin is a ‘visual’ organ, the beauty and cosmetic industry’s primary objective is to improve the appearance of skin with topical treatments. However, what is quite often overlooked is the positive impact we can have on our skin from within through nutrition.

Studies indicate that the Mediterranean diet is linked with improved health and longevity. The Mediterranean dietary pattern centres upon fruits, vegetables, whole grains, monounsaturated fats (MUFA; like those found in olive oil), and a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

An impressive amount of epidemiological data link the Mediterranean diet with improved cardiovascular, cognitive, and metabolic health.

The unique properties of this diet are also of particular interest for the skin. The Mediterranean diet may exert an anti-inflammatory effect due in part to its emphasis on extra virgin olive oil, which is high in compounds that modulate oxidative stress and quell inflammatory reactions. A particularly interesting olive oil compound is oleocanthal.

This compound has been recently been shown to possess anti-inflammatory actions similar to ibuprofen. In one hospital-based study in Italy, researchers gathered and compared medical and lifestyle history, as well as sun exposure habits and dietary patterns from over 300 controls to over 300 cases of cutaneous melanoma patients. Upon analysis and careful control of sun exposure and pigmentary characteristics, shellfish, fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids, regular tea drinking, and greater consumption of fruits and vegetables were associated with improved skin health.

Recipe: Griddled Chicken With Quinoa Greek Salad

Ingredients

  • 225g quinoa
  • 25g butter
  • 1 red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove , crushed
  • 400g chicken mini fillets
  • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 300g vine tomatoes , roughly chopped
  • handful pitted black kalamata olives
  • 1 red onion , finely sliced
  • 100g feta cheese , crumbled
  • Small bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • Juice and zest ½ lemon

Method

1. Cook the quinoa following the pack instructions, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.

2. Meanwhile, mix the butter, chilli and garlic into a paste. Toss the chicken fillets in 2 tsp of the olive oil with some seasoning. Lay in a hot griddle pan and cook for 3-4 mins each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, dot with the spicy butter and set aside to melt.

3. Next, tip the tomatoes, olives, onion, feta and mint into a bowl. Toss in the cooked quinoa. Stir through the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and season well. Serve with the chicken fillets on top, drizzled with any buttery chicken juices.