Best – and Worst – Holiday Foods for Your Skin

Try to limit foods with high amounts of fat and sugar
Best – and Worst – Holiday Foods for Your Skin

By: Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD

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The holidays are coming – and so is holiday food. Cookies, homemade pies, candy canes, gingerbread – with so many tempting foods around, the holidays can mean straying from our usual good eating habits. But weight gain and poor nutrition aren’t the only things you might worry about.

What you eat also can affect your skin’s appearance. Many holiday treats – and the sugar and fat they usually contain – can make your skin look less than its best. Sugar and fat can cause your skin to produce more oil, resulting in blemishes.

Foods that are the most nutritious for you to eat for overall health also are the best for your skin health. When you’re healthy and eating right, your complexion is clear and your skin has a beautiful glow.

We all look forward to special food at this time of year, and they definitely can be part of your holiday. But focus on the treats that usually are unavailable the rest of the year, and eat them in reasonable portions without overindulging.

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The worst foods

Here are a few foods to avoid or to consume in small portions to keep your skin looking great:

Egg nog: This traditional holiday drink is high in fat and laden with sugar. One cup has 10 grams of fat – about a sixth of the daily recommended amount if you’re consuming around 2,000 calories a day. A one-cup serving also has 20 grams of carbs – or five teaspoons of sugar. If you crave this thick, sweet and creamy beverage, try enjoying a small serving.

Creamy dips: This party staple usually contains high-fat ingredients such as mayonnaise (one tablespoon = 10 fat grams) or cream cheese (one tablespoon = 5 fat grams). Instead, go for shrimp with cocktail sauce or salsa scooped up with baked tortilla chips.

Pie: Holiday meals usually feature pie – or several different pies – for dessert. That flaky, buttery crust is mostly white flour and shortening. Then there is the sugary filling. Apple pie filling can have 22 grams of sugar per serving – that’s more than four teaspoons. If you must have pie, choose a sliver of pumpkin pie – the filling is high in vitamin A and fiber, which promotes skin health – and consider leaving the crust behind.

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The best foods

Here are some foods that will help maintain your skin’s healthy glow:

  • Choose raw vegetable appetizers in a wide variety of colors. This will ensure you’ll eat a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Carrots, for example, are rich in beta carotene and vitamins A and C, which improve your skin health.
  • Look for foods that have omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce redness in your skin, and help preserve your skin’s collagen, which helps to keep it firm. The top source of omega-3s is fish such as salmon, tuna (bluefin and albacore) and lake trout.
  • Eat nuts such as sunflower seeds, which contain vitamin E, and brazil nuts, which contain selenium, a mineral that can improve your skin’s elasticity and can help battle skin infections. Nuts also contain omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Look for foods that contain zinc, which can help reduce inflammation and bacteria production. Foods such as cocoa, chocolate, spinach, cashews, avocados, blackberries, raspberries and turkey contain zinc. Bonus: Chocolate also has flavonols, an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals and sun damage, which keeps the skin looking younger and more radiant. But keep your chocolate portion small – no more than one ounce!

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