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Five Foods for Smoother, Softer, Healthier Skin

NEW YORK -- Winter can be tough on your skin, and you certainly need more than moisturizer to fight its effects.

But did you know what you eat has a big impact on how your skin retains moisture, handles irritation, and ages?

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," registered dietician Cynthia Sass spotlighted five foods that could help your skin in winter, and anytime.

"The phrase 'You are what you eat' is absolutely true," Sass says. "Every cell in your body has a pre-programmed life span: A stomach cell lives about a day, a skin cell about a month. So each and every day, your body is busy making new cells to replace those that have died off, and how healthy those new cells are is directly determined by how well you've been eating."

Sass says chowing down more of these can help your skin look it best and even fight the effects of aging:

Tomatoes and olive oil are great together. A recent study found that tomato paste and olive oil boost pro-collagen, a molecule that gives the skin its structure and keeps it firm and youthful. Scientists think lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, is the key -' it's at its highest when tomatoes have been cooked, and olive oil boosts its absorption from your digestive system into your bloodstream. Try out a sun-dried tomato pesto or tomato paste with olive oil. I use sun-dried tomato pesto as a seasoning for steamed veggies or a dip for raw veggies, and tomato paste and olive oil are my base for vegetarian chili.

Fatty fish like wild salmon or sardines provides good fats, called omega-3s, that form cell membranes. The stronger the membrane, the better your cells can hold moisture, which means plumper, younger looking skin. Canned sardines make a great portable snack, and think beyond the grill for including salmon in your diet. Try salmon tacos!

Nuts, especially almonds and Brazil nuts: Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium. Those two antioxidants fight off free radicals, nasty substances we build up in our bodies every day, especially when we're stressed, that cause premature aging of all our cells, including skin. Brazil nuts are a great on-the-go snack, and I add almonds to everything, from oatmeal at breakfast to a garden salad at lunch or stir fry at dinner.

Yogurt is great for your skin. It's rich in probiotics -- friendly bacteria linked to better digestion, immunity and a reduction in skin sensitivity and inflammation. Good news for those who need to avoid dairy: The same bacteria are used to make soy and coconut milk yogurt, so you can still reap the benefits. To eat it, just whip it into a smoothie, layer it with fruit, nuts and oats in a parfait or add savory herbs to plain yogurt as a topping for potatoes or black bean soup.

Green tea, but not to drink!: Topically, green tea can help naturally exfoliate a dry, flaky scalp without dehydrating skin, and a recent study found that it can help slow the overgrowth of cells that cause dandruff and itching. To do this, you just steep two bags of green tea in a cup of hot water for 20 minutes-to-overnight. Once it has cooled, toss the bags out, bring the tea into the shower and massage it into your scalp.

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