What Thanksgiving Dinner Can Do For Your Skin


Photo: Tim Morris / Trunk Archive

Thanksgiving dinner often gets a bad rap because of its high calorie content. And yes, it’s loaded with butter, cream, sugar, fat, carbs—and the best part, gravy—but it’s also bursting with nutrients that are actually great for your skin.

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I consulted two nutritionists whose specialty both happens to be the beautifying effects of food. Lisa Drayer, MA, RD is a nationally renowned nutrition expert and the author of The Beauty Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Kimberly Snyder is a nutritionist, the author of The Beauty Detox Foods (Harlequin, 2013), and has worked with celebs like Drew Barrymore, Fergie, and Olivia Wilde. Together, they recommended six foods you can totally justify going back for seconds this Thanksgiving:

Sweet potatoes: Both experts agree that sweet potatoes count as a Thanksgiving superfood. (In fact, they’re so potent you can even put them directly on your face.) According to Drayer, sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects against aging and disease, while keeping skin soft and smooth. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C, another antioxidant that prevents free radical damage. Snyder recommends skipping the marshmallows and added sugar usually found in traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato recipes and amping up the flavor by roasting them in the oven with thyme.

Squash: Like its orange sweet potato sister-from-another-mister, squash also contains a hefty amount of vitamin A. In addition to being an antioxidant, Snyder notes, “Vitamin A plays a role in maintaining healthy vision, strengthening your immune system, and helping to maintain cell growth and renewal.”

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Dark meat turkey: White meat turkey usually gets all the glory when experts talk about healthy food, because it’s a bit leaner than its darker counterpart. But don’t toss aside those drumsticks; dark meat turkey is full of zinc, which plays a major role in skin renewal and repair and even strengthens nails. “Zinc keeps our nails strong and healthy,” Drayer explained. “Dark meat turkey is also a great source of iron, which is important for keeping hair healthy. A lack of iron can cause hair to become dry and brittle, and can also lead to hair loss.”

Broccoli and spinach: Make sure you add some green to your Thanksgiving dinner to break up all that white and brown. According to Snyder, broccoli has lots of fat-soluble vitamin E, another anti-oxidant that can protect your skin from UV damage by fighting free radicals. Broccoli and leafy greens like spinach are also packed with vitamin K, which can help prevent dark under eye circles. “These are often the result of leaky capillaries, and vitamin K rich foods are effective at clotting blood before it creates dark, puffy circles,” Snyder said. (I can’t guarantee this will work if you drink too many of your uncle’s famous Thanksgiving vodka cranberry juice cocktails, though.)

Cranberries: Speaking of cranberry, the slightly sour dish is often ignored in my family. Do so at your own peril, though. “Cranberries are a rich source of anti-aging antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins, which protect against urinary tract infections and help keep skin strong and supple,” Drayer said. “Cranberries are also a source of vitamin C, which stimulates collagen synthesis and protects against wrinkles.”

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Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts generally produce strong feelings: people either love or hate them. Snyder says to embrace those little green heads; they’re full of anti-oxidants and boast anti-inflammatory properties.

You can check out some amazing Thanksgiving beauty food recipes here on Kimberly Snyder’s blog. But don’t forget to have some pumpkin pie and stuffing, too. After all, there’s something to be said for feeding your soul as well as your face.

Happy Thanksgiving!