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Cold, dry weather and indoor heat wreak havoc on skin—plus, you’re less likely to be vigilant with sunscreen in the winter, meaning skin’s more vulnerable to sun damage. This winter, fill your plate with seven seasonal foods that not only prevent dryness, but also heal sun damage, reduce wrinkles, and lessen the signs of aging.
Are a great source of healthy fats that help improve skin health and protect against damage. They’re also rich in squalene, the skin’s most important protective lipid, as well as antioxidants such as oleuropein that slow the overall aging process, improve skin conditions, and prevent UV damage.
Try this: Roast olives with olive oil, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and garlic until hot for an easy winter appetizer; toss chopped green and black olives with shredded radicchio, endive, and shaved cheese; purée black olives, dried figs, minced rosemary, and goat cheese for a creamy tapenade.
Are rich in omega-3 fats that relieve dry skin and protect against psoriasis, a condition marked by itchy, scaly, red skin. Walnuts also contain linoleic acid, which helps strengthen the skin, promote moisture, and reduce scaly, dry skin. Walnuts are rich in vitamin E to keep skin soft, protect against sun damage, and inhibit the breakdown of collagen.
Try this: Purée walnut butter, roasted red peppers, and sundried tomatoes for a robust dip; process chickpeas, walnuts, onions, garlic, and oregano in a food processor, and form into patties for meatless burgers; toss roasted beets, fennel root, and parsnips with walnut oil and toasted walnuts.
Are high in polyphenols, antioxidants that increase blood flow, fight inflammation, and protect the skin from oxidative damage. Ellagic acid, a type of polyphenol in pomegranates, also reduces brown spots and signs of aging and inhibits collagen breakdown to keep skin supple and firm.
Try this: Make a simple, skin-healing vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, shallots, and olive oil; sauté escarole, kale, and onions in coconut oil, and top with pomegranate seeds and pistachios; cook cranberries in pomegranate juice and orange juice until tender, then stir in pomegranate seeds for an updated take on cranberry sauce.
4. Collards and Other Greens
Are rich in chlorophyll, shown to enhance collagen synthesis, improve wrinkles, and protect against oxidative damage. Studies also show that a higher intake of green vegetables is linked with increased skin elasticity. Like sweet potatoes and citrus, collards are high in skin-healing beta carotene and vitamin C. Other good winter greens include kale, chard, rapini, and escarole.
Try this: Sauté shredded collard greens, garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes in coconut oil and top with toasted walnuts; steam collard green leaves and roll around a filling of red lentils cooked with coconut milk, cumin, and minced cilantro; coarsely chop collard greens, toss with olive oil and garlic salt, and roast until crispy.
5. Pink Grapefruit
Is high in lycopene, which helps protect cells against oxidative damage and keeps skin healthy and strong. It’s also loaded with vitamin C to promote the production of collagen, the main structural protein in skin, improve elasticity, enhance skin strength, and reduce wrinkles and dryness. Other winter fruits high in vitamin C include tangerines, oranges, kumquats, and kiwi.
Try this: Toss grapefruit segments with shredded chicory, sliced avocado, and a kumquat-olive oil vinaigrette; mix fresh pink grapefruit juice and lime juice with sparkling water, and sweeten with honey or stevia for a refreshing cocktail; combine pink grapefruit segments with minced red onions, red bell peppers, serrano peppers, and lime juice for a fresh, fruity salsa.
Is rich in healthy fats, and studies show that higher intakes of dietary fat are significantly associated with increased skin elasticity and reduced wrinkling. Coconut oil is also packed with squalene, a compound that hydrates and softens skin, reduces inflammation, and protects against oxidative damage. Other studies show that it also protects against atopic dermatitis, a condition that causes dry, red, and itchy skin.
Try this: Toss whole coconut chips with melted coconut oil, salt, and coconut sugar, and bake until golden and crispy; mash roasted garlic cloves with coconut oil, cumin, and curry powder, and use as a savory spread; combine shredded coconut with almond flour, coconut oil, lime juice, and honey, form into balls, and bake until golden.
7. Sweet Potatoes
The deep orange color comes from beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that’s converted by the body to vitamin A, crucial in increasing skin cell turnover and decreasing dry, flaky skin. Beta carotene and vitamin A also protect against sun damage, boost elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and promote collagen production. Pumpkins, carrots, and winter squash are other good sources of beta carotene.
Try this: Halve baked sweet potatoes, scoop out flesh, and mash with garlic, minced rosemary, olive oil, and grated sharp cheese, then stuff potatoes and broil until golden; top sweet potato chips with black beans, salsa, avocado cubes, and shredded cheese, and bake until cheese is melted; toss cooked sweet potato cubes with quinoa, baby spinach, chickpeas, and olive oil.
Try our Walnut and Black Olive Pate recipe.