Holiday meals don’t have to put you in a food coma or pack on the pounds. In fact, eat the right things during the holidays (and regularly) and you can give your complexion a gorgeous glow. Here, integrative medicine physician Frank Lipman, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York, gives you the most skin-friendly foods. So read on and put these edibles on the menu!
Skin loving food #1: Sweet potatoes
Dig into those yams this holiday season because these orange veggies are one of the best sources of beta carotene. And when you eat foods that contain beta carotene, the body converts it to vitamin A, which is retinol—the wrinkle-fighter found in topical anti-aging products. “Beta carotene also protects the skin against free-radical damage, helps repair damaged DNA and contributes to the growth and repair of the body's tissues,” adds Lipman. Another benefit? Beta carotene boosts your skin’s ability to shed the dead, top layer of cells, something that slows down once you hit the big 3-0. Other ways to get your fill of this nutrient include carrots, mangos, apricots, cantaloupes, pumpkin, acorn squash and winter squash. “You can also get beta carotene from cod liver oil and butter that comes from grass-fed cows,” adds Lipman.
Skin loving food #2: Cranberries
“Some dark purple and red foods such as cranberries have been linked to improvements in skin,” says Lipman. One possible reason why is that these little berries are loaded withantioxidants. “People who eat more veggies containing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds have less acne,” says Lipman. Just look for the fresh cranberry sauce during the holidays rather than the canned variety. The latter is usually processed and often contains ingredients like sugar that causes spikes in hormones and insulin levels, which can cause breakouts. Other good options include pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries and purple grapes.
Skin loving food #3: Salmon
Salmon is a cold-water fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for glowing, gorgeous skin.Why? “The typical Western diet is full of fats and processed vegetable oils like soy and corn oils that can increase inflammation in the skin and stimulate pimple follicles causing acne,” says Lipman. Omega-3 fats from fish oil can help reduce inflammation, which may improve acne and other skin conditions. Foods full of omega-3 fatty acids also help hydrate your complexion from the inside out and skin always looks younger and more radiant when it’s moisturized. Other good sources of this nutrient include sardines, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and walnuts.
Skin loving food #4: Brussel sprouts
Boiled Brussel sprouts are bursting with vitamin C—another compound that can help your complexion. “Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin its firmness and strength,” says Lipman. Vitamin C also helps skin repair itself and create scar tissue. And that’s not all! “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the rate of damage from unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles,” says Lipman. If Brussel sprouts aren’t your thing, other vitamin C rich foods include sweet potatoes, papayas, red bell peppers, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe and kiwis.
Skin loving food #5: Leafy green veggies “Leafy greens—such as arugula, escarole, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, spinach—are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals,” explains Lipman. “They are anti-inflammatory and contain a lot of water, which helps keep you hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair.” But, wait, there’s more! Leafy greens contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E, which keeps skin healthy as you age and helps protect it from the sun’s damaging rays. Leafy greens also contain chlorophyll which binds to heavy metals and toxins and helps remove them from the body. “This makes your skin look better because the toxins are not being removed through the skin,” says Lipman.
Skin loving food #6: Turkey
Turkey is loaded with protein, which is one of the building blocks of healthy skin. “Protein helps with collagen formation, which helps with elasticity,” explains Lipman. Turkey also contains selenium, a nutrient that’s believed to help protect skin cells from damage. Just opt for the white meat, which is healthier than the dark. If you’re not a turkey lover, look for other lean sources of protein like fish, chicken without the skin and lean meats.