A Cornucopia for Your Skin
We often fixate on the potential weight gain related to indulging in yummy holiday foods, but did you know that some traditional holiday eats can actually benefit your body both inside and out? Antioxidant-rich holiday fare like sweet potatoes, cranberries, and even the spices that we closely associate with the holiday are high in antioxidants, which help stave off cell damage throughout the body, as well as protect the skin.
Here are six common holiday foods that can pamper your skin, inside and out.
1. Sweet Potatoes
That bright orange color is the first sign that sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants. This is why doctors suggest eating a diet rich in various colorful fruits and vegetables. The orange hue is due to high levels of beta carotene, a vitamin A derivative from the same family as anti-aging retinoids. There’s also plenty of collagen-boosting vitamin C, along with vitamin B6, which has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.
We all know that fruits like blueberries are “superfoods,” and cranberries are no exception. Shown to contain more antioxidant phenols than 19 other commonly eaten fruits, these yummy little wonders may help to prevent heart disease and certain cancers. Another study by the USDA found that cranberries are in the top five (out of over 1,100 foods) in terms of antioxidant levels, thanks to their high concentrations of anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, resveratrol, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E.
You may be surprised to learn that in addition to its delicious flavor, cinnamon is one of the strongest antioxidant spices, which could be why this bark has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient Egyptian times. When compared to other free-radical-fighting powerhouses, one teaspoon of cinnamon has the same antioxidant strength as one cup of pomegranate juice or a half-cup of blueberries. Even more, cinnamon is rich in substances called polyphenols, which may help regulate blood sugar levels (diabetics, take heed!).
When you’re prepping the turkey, don’t skimp on the oregano! It owes its superior antioxidant activity to a high natural content of free-radical scavengers like phenolic acids and flavonoids. Just as with other spices, go for the fresh version, and be sure to tuck some inside the bird in addition to sprinkling it on the outside for an added boost of its antioxidant power.
When time for dessert rolls around, you may want to skip the pie in favor of something chocolaty instead. But all chocolate isn’t created equal, and you’re better off indulging in dark chocolate, as opposed to white and milk varieties. The higher the percentage of cacao, the more antioxidants it has. Additionally, dark chocolate has been proven to help lower blood pressure. In order to reap the benefits of these antioxidants, though, don’t wash your chocolate down with milk, as this has been shown to interfere with antioxidant absorption.
6. Red Wine
It’s not a holiday without wine (in my family, at least), but as it turns out, wine can possibly help with much more than just dealing with your relatives. Studies have shown that red wine might play a role in keeping you healthy as well! Red wine is bursting with an antioxidant called resveratrol, which has been shown to increase levels of “good” cholesterol and protect arteries from damage (Mayo Clinic). Other resveratrol studies in mice have shown that this antioxidant may be able to stave off weight gain, so drink up (responsibly, of course).
Just because these holiday foods are on the menu doesn’t mean you should eat yourself into a food coma. Antioxidants aren’t strong enough to offset calorie over-consumption, and recent studies show that high-glycemic foods may contribute to acne, and who wants to be bloated and blemished (Molecular Nutrition and Food Research)? But keep in mind that many of your favorite festive foods can be healthy both inside and out, so eating a moderate amount of these six goodies can leave you feeling and looking your holiday best!
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.