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2 reasons to try huitlacoche (AKA “corn smut”)

I had a fantastic vacation in Denver last week, and while I was there I followed through on my vow to keep trying new things. One of those things? Trying huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-co-chee), or corn smut, for the first time.

Huitlacoche is a fungus that attacks corn crops and has been a delicacy since the Aztecs and Mayans, who would add it to tamales and stews. Today you can sometimes find it on the menu at Mexican restaurants, usually slathered in a quesadilla. It might look unappetizing, but when it’s cooked it tastes earthy and mild, sort of like a creamy mushroom. And—best of all—it’s really good for you. (And your skin!) Here’s how:

Lysine. Huitlacoche pumps corn full of this essential amino acid. Necessary for human health, your body can’t produce lysine, which means you have to get it from your diet (by eating something like corn smut). According to University of Maryland Medical Center, lysine appears to help your body absorb calcium, and helps in the formation of collagen.

Beta glucans. Corn smut is also packed with beta glucans, which, according to WebMD, are the sugars found in the cell walls of many bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants like oats and barley. Beta glucans can be distilled into prescription medicines and used to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and more, as well as helping to boost immune systems in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or who have had radiation or chemotherapy. Plus, beta glucans are proven to be a good topical treatment for dermatitis, eczema, wrinkles, burns, and more.

If you want to cook it for yourself, Goya sells canned huitlacoche. Try it in a taco or quesadilla! What’s the strangest good-for-you food you’ve ever tried? —Aleigh


(Image via International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)

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Summer foods make for gorgeous skin

Summer is the best time of year for the farmers market—locally grown fresh tomatoes, berries, peppers, herbs and veggies are in season.

Those fresh fruits and vegetables don’t just taste great, though; they’re loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that work from the inside out to keep you looking (and feeling) healthy.

Plus, summertime goodies are great for your skin!

Berries. Sweet, juicy berries are nature’s superfoods. Chock-full of antioxidants, some berries have even been proven to elevate mood, enhance memory and cognition, and improve balance and coordination.
Try it: Redflower Essential Omega Fresh Berry Oil Serum, $48 at Beautorium.com

Cucumber. Use it for more than just slicing and placing on your eyelids—cucumber’s cooling effects make it a great skin soother.
Try it: Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel, $14.99

Citrus. Orange, lemon, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are great for skin; they fight wrinkles, improve texture, and even clear your pores.
Try it: Green Apple Peel Full Strength, $45.

Herbs. Herbs keep your skin looking and feeling healthy—use them to combat acne or soothe irritated skin.
Try it: Trilogy Botanical Body Wash, $28.

Carrot. Carrots aren’t just good for eyesight; they have natural anti-inflammatory properties and revitalize and tone the skin.
Try it: Acure Organics Chamomile + Carrot Day Cream, $18.99 at SpiritBeautyLounge.com.

 

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