Family dinners, office parties, cookie-baking: so many holiday activities seem to center around food. And a lot of holiday foods are rich in fat and sugar that can inspire a certain amount of dread. Will your body — and skin — pay the price for all this indulgence? Well, here’s the good news: not all holiday foods are unhealthy. In fact, a good number of them are actually healthy holiday foods, filled with nutrients that provide remarkable age-fighting benefits.
Here are some of those holiday youth-boosting food favorites:
If you’ve ever had a few drinks at party or dinner, you may have noticed that your skin looks duller the next morning. That’s because alcohol isn’t particularly friendly to skin — or your body.
There is one standout exception to this rule: red wine. You’ve probably heard about the antioxidant benefits of drinking a glass of red wine and how it can help maintain heart health. Well, those same antioxidants benefit the skin as well. You see — antioxidants help combat free radicals that attack the body. Free radicals come from a variety of sources, but some common sources are pollution, UV rays, fried foods, and cigarette smoke. This oxidative stress can lead to the visible signs of aging — like wrinkles, collagen breakdown, and sun spots.1
The Power of Polyphenols for Anti-Aging
Fortunately, red wine contains plenty of antioxidant polyphenols. These antioxidants combat the effects of free radicals. This helps prevent the development of wrinkles and also helps prevent skin water loss — which can lead to a complexion that looks thin and dull.2 Polyphenols also help decrease skin pigmentation that can occur as a result of UV damage.3
And just one glass of red wine is packed with 200 mg of antioxidant polyphenols. Compare that with a glass of white wine, which only contains about 30 mg of polyphenols.4
If you pour yourself a cup of cheer this holiday season, forego the white wine — or eggnog — and drink to good health with red wine. Just make sure you practice moderation – overdoing it can definitely age the skin, even with red wine!
There’s nothing more festive than stringing popcorn and cranberries around the tree. But you may want to save some of that popcorn for a healthy snack. That’s right — popcorn can be healthy for you.
Popcorn is rich in an antioxidant called ferulic acid.5 Ferulic acid scavenges free radicals that can lead to the visible signs of aging, like crepey skin and darkening.6
So help yourself to a few handfuls of popcorn — but maybe try to keep butter and salt at a minimum.
Cranberries (And Other Berries!)
Speaking of stringing popcorn and cranberries around the tree — don’t forget that cranberries are also a potent antioxidant. So, when the cranberry sauce is passed around the table this Thanksgiving — don’t be shy about helping yourself to an extra spoonful on your turkey.
Cranberries — along with other berries like the aronia — are high in anthocyanins that can help prevent skin aging and the development of damage from UV rays.7
So whether it’s cranberries on your turkey — or a slice of berry pie — you can feel good about getting a high dose of anthocyanins.
Let’s talk about what you’re putting your cranberries on: turkey! Turkey is a good source of lean protein, as well as the nutrients niacin and selenium.
Niacin and selenium may help protect skin cells from the sun’s damaging UV rays.8,9 And since so much of skin aging is due to effects of UV rays — it’s important to get plenty of nutrients like these to counteract the damage.
Okay, maybe spinach isn’t exactly a holiday food, but it’s not a bad idea to put some leafy greens on your plate to balance out whatever treats you indulge in.
You probably already know that spinach is a superfood — and for good reason. Spinach contains 188% of the daily value of vitamin A and 47% of the daily value of vitamin C.10
Vitamin A has antioxidant properties that can help combat oxidative stress that leads to the signs of aging.11 And studies have shown that high vitamin C intake is associated with fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness. Vitamin C also brightens skin that may be darkened due to sun exposure.12
Why not sautee those greens in a little olive oil? Olive oil will give your complexion yet another antioxidant boost, plus it’s loaded with vitamin E13 — which helps prevent skin aging and irritation.14
In the mood for more vitamin C and vitamin A? Fantastic — sweet potatoes have you covered. One cup of sweet potatoes offers up a whopping 769% of your daily value of vitamin A. They’re also high in vitamin C: 65% of your daily value!15
So if you can’t make your mind up between traditional mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes — go for the sweet potatoes! (Just forgo the ones covered in marshmallows!)
Making a pumpkin pie for the big dinner? Hold on to those pumpkin seeds and roast them for a healthy snack. Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of zinc16 and like many of the nutrients mentioned previously — zinc belongs to the antioxidant family.17
Zinc also suppresses the actions of skin cells called “melanocytes”. Melanocytes are responsible for the pigment in your skin, and when they’re overactive — they can lead to the appearance of dark spots, also known as “age spots”.18
Happy Holiday Eating
Stressed about the barrage of rich holiday foods coming your way this season? Don’t be. Just try to keep a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and go ahead and indulge in these holiday classics stocked with antioxidants and vitamins that help keep skin looking young. ‘Tis the season!
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