Do you have spots or patches of abnormal darkness or lightness on your skin, or does your skin go red with the wind or any new product you try? There are plenty of issues that could be causing your skin to change in color or appear uneven.
Patchy skin tone can be a result of a number of things. The sun is a major culprit. Sun damage can cause hyperpigmentation that shows up as brown spots, creating a discolored or uneven colored skin tone. Another culprit of unevenness is irritation, which can cause redness and blotchiness.
When sunlight hits the skin, specialized cells called melanocytes produce small amounts of the pigment melanin to help protect against the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. Chronic sun exposure, however, along with other factors such as heredity and hormonal changes, trigger melanocytes to excessively produce melanin.
This manifests as age spots and difficult-to-treat melasma (dark, discolored patches on skin). As the years pass, the process of melanin synthesis becomes dysregulated and contributes to older-looking skin.
Exfoliation is a powerful tool to fight pigmentation and get your skin tone back on track. Not only does it rid your skin of dead skin cells that contribute to dullness, discoloration, and clogged pores, but it also encourages cell turnover. Cell turnover is when new skin cells replace the old ones, which helps reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and fine lines.
- Oats – If your skin tends to lean to the sensitive side, try organic oats as a physical exfoliant. You can use oats for a gentle body scrub or even as a facial scrub alternative. Add rose toner (anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant), chamomile (extract of chamomile have been used for centuries for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases and wound healing), and almond oil (combats dry skin and eczema).
- Apples and apple cider vinegar – Alpha hydroxy acids are extremely beneficial for loosening dead cells and revealing the new skin beneath. Malic acid, found in apples, is a good choice for an exfoliating mask. An Apple Cider Vinegar Peel is an option to use as an exfoliant. Combining apple cider vinegar with apples helps kill bacteria, remove excess dirt, oil and makeup, and gently exfoliate by dissolving dead skin cells. Using these acids in a facial peel is particularly helpful for evening out complexions, especially if you have age spots or sun damage. – 1 teaspoon organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar + 1 tablespoon applesauce, preferably organic or homemade. Apply to a clean, dry face.
- Baking soda is one of the most versatile items you probably already have in your home. It can be used to lighten underarms, to make deodorant, as a bath soak, or to whiten your teeth. This easy cleanser recipe is great for all skin types. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into your facial cleanser.
- Topical vitamin C is a science-backed, dermatologist-favorite ingredient that may help slow early skin aging, prevent sun damage, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and acne. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it fights harmful free radicals (toxins) that come in contact with your skin from external sources like air pollution, or from inside the body as a result of normal processes like your metabolism. Free radicals can damage the skin, and applying topical vitamin C can combat free radicals and may improve the skin’s overall appearance.
A few clinical studies have demonstrated that vitamin C can improve wrinkles. One study showed that daily use of a vitamin C formulation for at least three months improved the appearance of fine and coarse wrinkles of the face and neck, as well as improved overall skin texture and appearance.
Vitamin C may also help protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays when used in combination with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Clinical studies have shown that combining vitamin C with other topical ingredients, namely ferulic acid and vitamin E, can diminish redness and help protect the skin from long-term damage caused by harmful sun rays.
Vitamin C can reduce the appearance of dark spots by blocking the production of pigment in our skin. In clinical trials, the majority of the participants applying topical vitamin C had improvement in their dark spots with very little irritation or side effects.
Vitamin C can be found in serums or other skincare products. Different formulations of vitamin C can alter its strength and effects in the skin. Consider purchasing vitamin C products from your dermatologist’s office or a verified online retailer, with a clinical formulation that contains an active form of vitamin C (for instance, L-ascorbic acid), has a strength of 10% to 20%, and a pH lower than 3.5, as this combination has been studied in clinical trials. This information can be obtained from the manufacturer’s website under the ingredients section.
Two other compounds have been shown to impede melanin production to correct skin pigmentation.
Glutathione – Glutathione naturally occurs inside every cell. It plays a crucial role in antioxidant defense, immunity, and detoxification. Glutathione also has been shown to exhibit anti-melanogenic properties. This means it inhibits the production of melanin.
Human studies show that topical glutathione results in a clearer and more even complexion. In a randomized, double-blind, controlled study, female subjects topically applied glutathione twice daily to one side of the face and a placebo to the other for 10 weeks.
Compared to the placebo group, the glutathione-treated group showed a significant decrease in melanin index, an indicator of the skin’s melanin content, as well as diminished wrinkles and improved skin moisture and smoothness.
Other research has established the effectiveness of topical glutathione to treat a common pigmentation disorder known as melasma that affects mostly women in the facial area. In one clinical study, topical glutathione significantly reduced the melasma area and severity index compared to a placebo, which translated into brighter skin for participants at the study’s end. This is noteworthy, since melasma has been historically difficult to treat.
When looking for a topical application, chose one that has oxidized glutathione, which is stable in aqueous form and is able to be used in lotions or creams.
Niacinamide is a form of niacin (vitamin B3) shown to combat skin aging by boosting antioxidant capacity, improving epidermal barrier function, and correcting pigmentation.
Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials demonstrate that topical niacinamide significantly decreases facial skin yellowing, blotchiness, wrinkling, and excess pigmentation after three months. In a double-blind clinical trial, females aged 25-60 with multiple types of brown patches, topically applied niacinamide twice daily to one side of the face and a placebo to the other for eight weeks.
Compared to baseline, the treatment group decreased total area of hyperpigmentation by 25% versus only 15% in the placebo group. Topical niacinamide was well-tolerated by participants.
Researchers found that topical niacinamide was comparable to hydroquinone for treating melasma, but importantly accomplished this with fewer side effects.
Clinical improvements in the niacinamide-treated group were correlated with skin biopsy evidence of significant reductions in epidermal melanin and inflammation.
What you eat always makes a difference! For extra vitamin C, add citrus, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and cruciferous foods like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. For a boost of glutathione, include broccoli, spinach, garlic and parsley in your diet. And, for food with niacinamide, increase your intake of seaweed, hemp and chia seeds, peanuts, almonds and flaxseeds.
Jackfruit is an exotic fruit grown in tropical regions of the world. It is native to South India. It is part of the Moraceae plant family, which also includes fig, mulberry and breadfruit. Jackfruit has a spiky outer skin and is green or yellow in color.
One unique aspect of jackfruit is its unusually large size. It is the largest tree fruit in the world and can reach up to 80 pounds and grow on trees that reach 80 feet! The most commonly consumed part of jackfruit is the flesh, or fruit pods, which are edible both when ripe and unripe. The fruit is popular in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, among other Southeast Asian countries, and is considered the national fruit of Bangladesh.
Jackfruit is not the easiest fruit to prepare. When cut open, you’ll see large, pale yellow pods (or bulbs) that contain seeds and are connected to the fruit’s core. Ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh or added to desserts such as ice cream. It’s the unripe, green jackfruit that’s the most interesting and useful. It has a texture very similar to chicken or pulled pork, which makes it an excellent “vegetarian meat” for curries, salads, and noodles.
Ripe jackfruit has a tropical fruit sweetness often likened to mango or pineapple. When still green, jackfruit has a more neutral flavor, similar to a potato, and will absorb the flavor of other foods it’s cooked with. The seeds are similar to chestnuts after boiling or roasting.
It contains a moderate amount of calories, providing 155 in a one-cup serving. Approximately 92% of the calories come from carbs, while the rest come from protein and a small amount of fat. Jackfruit contains some of almost every vitamin and mineral that you need, as well as a decent amount of fiber.
One cup of sliced fruit provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 155
- Carbs: 40 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 18% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 11% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
- Potassium: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 16% of the RDI
What makes jackfruit unique from other fruits is its protein content. It provides more than 3 grams of protein per cup, compared to 0-1 grams in other similar types of fruit, such as apples and mangoes.
The lectin in jackfruit has been shown to inhibit several viruses, including herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), in lab settings. Researchers are studying the benefits of jackfruit seeds as a potential new antibiotic, which could be particularly useful in treating antibiotic-resistant diseases. Some scientists advise caution to people who are already on antibiotics, as well as people who take blood thinners, as jackfruit may increase their risk of bleeding.
Jackfruit has several properties that may help with blood sugar management. It has a fairly low glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly your blood sugar rises after eating a food. This has been attributed to the fiber it provides, which slows digestion and helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Because jackfruit provides some protein, it might help prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after a meal.
In one study, adults who consumed jackfruit extract were found to have significantly improved blood sugar levels. This was attributed to jackfruit’s content of flavonoid antioxidants, which are known for their ability to promote balanced blood sugar levels.
Jackfruit is high in a few powerful antioxidants.
- Vitamin C: Jackfruit contains high amounts of vitamin C, which may help prevent the inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
- Carotenoids: Carotenoids have been shown to help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Flavanones: Flavanones contain anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels – important factors in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Preventing skin problems: This fruit provides several nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, that may improve skin health. There is anecdotal evidence that eating it may slow the aging of your skin.
- Immune health: Jackfruit’s content of immune-boosting vitamins A and C may help prevent illnesses. Eating this fruit is also claimed to be helpful for reducing the risk of viral infections.
- Heart health: Jackfruit may have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease due to its content of potassium, fiber and antioxidants
The roots and extracts have been used in traditional Indian and Sri Lankan medicine to treat several conditions, including asthma, diarrhea and stomach ulcers.
People with latex allergies should avoid eating jackfruit. People who are allergic to birch pollen should also skip jackfruit. And, because jackfruit contains a lot of potassium, it’s not safe for people who have chronic kidney disease.
How to Buy
Fresh jackfruit can be purchased at Asian food markets and specialty stores. It’s typically sold by the pound, with the average market jackfruit weighing between 10 and 25 pounds. The smell of a whole jackfruit will usually indicate its ripeness: The stronger the smell, the riper the fruit. Due to the fruit’s size, many stores offer precut jackfruit as well. Whether raw or ripe, make sure to avoid fruit with black or dark spots.
Jackfruit can also be purchased frozen, dried, or canned. The canned variety will be packed in brine (preferred for curry and other savory dishes) or syrup, which is ripe and sweet and not as useful. Additionally, look for canned jackfruit that’s labeled “green,” “young,” or “tender” if you want to use it as a meat substitute.
How to Store
Whole jackfruit will ripen as it rests. If you intend to eat it while green, process and freeze it as soon as possible. Cut, ripened jackfruit can be stored in silicone bags in the refrigerator for about one week or the freezer for up to one month.
How to Cook
Preparing a green jackfruit takes a little doing, but it yields a lot of food. The extras can be frozen for future use, just like you would with extra fresh meat. Jackfruit contains natural latex, so if you have a latex allergy, wear gloves. If working bare-handed, slather oil over your hands and a sharp serrated knife so they don’t get too sticky. Take extra caution when doing so and work carefully so the knife doesn’t slip.
A common way to prepare jackfruit is by boiling or using a pressure cooker. It’s best to lay down newspaper over a wide working surface, then slice the jackfruit into two halves. Keep slicing until you have large chunks of fruit (leaving the skin on). Boil the jackfruit chunks for 45 minutes or until the inner flesh is soft and a bit stringy, like chicken. If you have a pressure cooker, 10 minutes is enough.
When the jackfruit is cooked, peel off the skin to reveal the seeds and pods surrounding the seeds. The seed pods can be eaten, as well as the stringy fleshy sections between the pods and skin. Dig all of this out, separating the seeds.
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
Lazy Cat Kitchen
PULLED JACKFRUIT (for best flavor, make a day ahead)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 2-3 pinches ground cloves, adjust to taste
- 1 tsp sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli paste) or chilli powder, to taste
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 20 oz tins young (green) jackfruit in water
- 4 tbsp tamari sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp white pepper (black is okay too)
- 1-2 tsp liquid smoke**, adjust to taste
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
SOFT TACOS (makes about 10 4.5″ diameter)
- 1½ cups all purpose gluten-free flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
- 15 ripe plum tomatoes
- 1 spring onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tsp lime juice
- ½ tsp sugar
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Romaine lettuce, shredded
- quick-pickled red onions
- vegan sour cream
- small bunch of coriander
- Drain both jackfruit tins. Cut the firm, pointy ends off each triangular piece of jackfruit. Set aside.
- Heat up olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed, pan. Fry diced red onion until softened, translucent and lightly caramelized. Add chopped garlic and cook until soft and fragrant.
- Add most of the spices: cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to the onion-garlic mixture. Gently sauté, stirring the whole time, for a minute or so.
- Mix in the tomato and chili paste.
- Add in the prepared jackfruit along with tamari sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke and apple cider vinegar. Mix everything really well. Squash the jackfruit pieces with your mixing spoon so that the individual fibres separate more. Season with pepper and another pinch of ground cloves if you wish. Simmer the mixture for another 10-15 minutes and then allow it to cool down. Place in the fridge overnight to intensify the flavour.
Just before you are ready to assemble the tacos, set the oven to 390° F. Spread the jackfruit pieces on a baking paper-lined baking tray and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a little browned.
- Put a kettle on. To make tacos – mix flour, baking powder and salt in a big bowl. Add olive oil to the flour mixture and incorporate it well with your hands. Once the water comes to the boil, add about ½ cup of hot water in. Initially mix it all together with a spoon (as the mixture will be too hot), then start kneading the dough with your hands. You may need to add another splash of water if the dough is still too dry.
- Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Rest the dough for about 30 min covered with a damp kitchen towel. The resting step is very important so do not skip it. You can also make the dough a day in advance and keep it in the fridge overnight. If you decide to do that, bring the dough to room temperature before rolling the tacos.
- Once the dough has rested, divide it into 10 equal pieces.
- Set a medium, heavy-bottomed or griddle pan on a medium heat (it’s important not to get the pan too hot).
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out tortillas on a lightly floured surface. Refrain from adding too much flour as it will produce dry tacos. Once you are happy with the shape* and thickness (make them as thin as possible), put your taco on a hot pan.
- Little bubbles will start to appear after about 30 seconds, if any large air pockets appear pierce them with the tip of a knife. After about 1-2 minutes from when the taco hits the pan, flip the taco and cook for only about 30 seconds on the other side. Do not let them sit in the hot pan for too long as it will produce dry and cracking tacos.
- Keep cooked tacos in a stack in a warm place (like a very low oven) covered with a damp towel (to prevent them from drying out).