The top anti-aging, nutritionist-recommended foods to add to your diet now

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If you've noticed that what you eat affects not only your waistline but also your skin, hair and nails, you are not alone.

There is even a specialty within the nutrition industry for helping people heal themselves from the inside out: Beauty nutrition.

“The most important thing you can do is eat foods that feed your features with optimal nutrition," said Lisa Drayer, a New York City-based registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in beauty nutrition. “You can use all the moisturizer and makeup you want, but unless your features are getting the nutrients you need, you’re not going to look your best.”

Drayer wrote the book on the subject.

In “The Beauty Diet: Looking Great Has Never Been So Delicious,” she lays out the best foods to eat to make your skin, hair and nails strong and glowing.

“It’s an anti-aging approach to eating,” she said. “You’re not only helping yourself today but for weeks, months and years to come.”

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Beauty Foods

Drayer said you can see expect to see changes in your skin in about a month once you incorporate the right foods into your diet. For hair and nails, it can take a few months to see changes. The life cycles of the skin, hair and nails vary from one month, three months, and six to 12 months, respectively.

Drayer says her clients who upgrade their nutrition walk away with not just better skin, but improved energy and overall health too.

"It's really amazing to see," she said. "As people are increasingly looking for natural ways to age gracefully, the notion of beauty and nutrition together continues to grow and gain in popularity."

PHOTO: Learn what to eat to make improve and strengthen your skin, hair and nails. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Learn what to eat to make improve and strengthen your skin, hair and nails.

While eating a wide variety of foods is key to an anti-aging diet, there is one food category that Drayer recommends steering clear of: Sugary foods, like candy, cookies, cake and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sugar-rich foods may contribute to acne and wrinkles, according to Drayer.

"When blood sugar levels are high as a result of eating these foods, sugars can attach to proteins in collagen and they can produce compounds that cause skin to sag and become wrinkled," she said. "Also, when you eat too many refined, sugary carbs, your body makes more insulin, which increases production of hormones known as androgens."

High levels of androgens can lead to pimples, Drayer explained.

Daily intake of added sugars should be no more than 10 percent of your total calories, or 150 calories on a 1,500 calorie diet, according to Drayer.

She also recommends limiting sodium -- found in salty snacks as well as processed, canned and frozen foods and condiments -- to less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, or about 1 teaspoon of salt, for optimal skin health.

What can you eat to improve your skin?

Drayer recommends these 10 foods.

Read more about their benefits, plus recipes to try, below.

Top 10 beauty foods

1. Wild salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids provide moisture to skin and help reduce inflammation, which helps prevent dry scaly skin, redness and acne.

PHOTO: Salmon is served on a bed of spinach in this undated stock photo. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Salmon is served on a bed of spinach in this undated stock photo.

2. Low-fat yogurt: The calcium will give you strong bones, beautiful nails, good posture and a beautiful smile.

3. Oysters: Rich in zinc which helps build collagen and speed up skin renewal.

4. Blueberries: Antioxidants in blueberries help prevent long-term cell damage and aging.

5. Kiwi fruit: The potassium and vitamin C promote glowing skin.

6. Sweet potatoes: Rich in beta-carotene which keeps skin soft and smooth.

7. Spinach: The beta-carotene and lutein in spinach helps protect eyes, keeping them healthy and bright.

8. Tomatoes: The lycopene in tomatoes can help protect against sunburn.

9. Walnuts: Omega-3's in walnuts can help fight psoriasis and eczema.

10. Dark chocolate: Choose chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa to get the antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that help boost hydration, skin smoothness and protect against sun exposure.

Two days of anti-aging eating

Day 1

Breakfast: Egg white, spinach, and feta scramble on whole wheat toast; 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt with 1/2 cup mixed berries.

Lunch: Lemon-grilled chicken over mixed green salad with yogurt dill dressing.

Dinner: Saute´ed Mediterranean shrimp, tomatoes, and broccoli over whole wheat spaghetti.

Beauty snack one: Chocolate-dipped apples (Heat 4 ounces dark chocolate in a microwave-safe dish for 30-second intervals until soft; Dip the apple slices into the melted chocolate, place on wax paper and sprinkle with pistachios).

PHOTO: Dark chocolate-dipped apples with pistachios from The Beauty Diet. The Beauty Diet
Dark chocolate-dipped apples with pistachios from "The Beauty Diet."

Beauty snack two: Pomegranate blueberry smoothie (Blend together 1 cup pomegranate juice, 1/2 frozen blueberries, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract).

Day 2

Breakfast: French toast stuffed with ricotta, kiwi, and peach.

Lunch: Sweet potato leek soup; 1/2 whole wheat pita with three-ounces sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, and mustard.

Dinner: Grilled halibut and vegetable skewers; Two cups mesclun greens with one teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and one tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

Beauty snack one: Raspberry almond yogurt cup.

PHOTO: Yogurt with raspberries and sliced almonds is pictured in this undated stock photo. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Yogurt with raspberries and sliced almonds is pictured in this undated stock photo.

Beauty snack two: 1-ounce dark chocolate (60 percent cacao).

'Beauty Diet' anti-aging recipes

California turkey burger with creamy avocado yogurt spread

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1 ripe avocado

2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt

4 whole wheat hamburger buns

4 romaine lettuce leaves

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Directions: Preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Gently mix the ground turkey, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, and the chili powder in a medium bowl until well combined and divide into four equal patties.

Place on the prepared baking sheet and brush with barbecue sauce. Place under the broiler and cook for 5–7 minutes on each side or until just cooked through. Meanwhile, peel, pit, and mash the avocado with the yogurt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Assemble the burgers by lightly toasting the buns and place the lettuce and onion on the bottom bun, top with 1 burger patty, avocado spread and the top bun.

Yield: 4 servings (1 burger each)

Turkey, apple, spinach and caramelized onion pressed sandwich

PHOTO: A turkey, apple, spinach, and caramelized onion-pressed sandwich from The Beauty Diet. The Beauty Diet
A turkey, apple, spinach, and caramelized onion-pressed sandwich from "The Beauty Diet."

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 cups baby spinach

8 slices whole grain bread

1 pound deli sliced turkey breast

1 apple, thinly sliced

Nonstick cooking spray

Directions: Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, stir well, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, uncover, stir, and continue to cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the spinach until lightly wilted, and place in a small bowl. Wipe out the skillet and set aside. Assemble the sandwiches: Top 4 slices of bread with equal amounts of caramelized onions and spinach, turkey, and apple; top with a second slice of bread.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray set over medium-high heat and cook the sandwiches,

White bean 'hummus'

1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

Yield: 4 servings

Reprinted with permission from "The Beauty Diet: Looking Great Has Never Been So Delicious" by Lisa Drayer.