It is hard to believe, but the week of Thanksgiving has arrived! Do you have a list of things you need to do before Thursday? Maybe your list includes:
- Search for Thanksgiving recipes
- Plan out your Thanksgiving menu
- Go grocery shopping
- Clean the house
- Set up fall-themed decorations in the dining room
- Cook meal
Just thinking about everything you need to do can feel overwhelming. If you’re still searching for Thanksgiving recipes and are not sure what you want to cook yet, don’t worry: I’m here to help.
Let’s dig into 8 plant-based, beauty foods that you can include in your Thanksgiving dishes! These beauty foods will not only brighten up your plates, but they can contribute to healthy, vibrant skin.
What to add to your Thanksgiving appetizers?
Salads are a delicious and healthy appetizer to start off a Thanksgiving meal! There are so many combinations of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Here are a couple of my favorite ingredients.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable native to Asia. It includes nutritional benefits for our bodies and our skin. Let’s explore these benefits!
- Carotenoids: Spinach contains a high amount of carotenoids. They give the plant its pigment. We also need carotenoids to make vitamin A, a nutrient our body uses to moderate the skin and hair’s oil production. This ensures we have moisturized skin during the fall and winter months. In addition, moderating oil production is important to prevent acne.
- Vitamin C: Several topical creams include vitamin C, but you can also get vitamin C through eating spinach. Vitamin C helps stabilize collagen molecules and promotes collagen gene expression. This is important because collagen is the most abundant protein in humans. Collagen gives our skin strength and elasticity.
- Vitamin K1: We find vitamin K1 in spinach’s chloroplasts. Most vitamin K1 is retained by the liver and is used for clotting factor synthesis.
- Iron: We need iron for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Iron deficiency can result in fragile nails, koilonychia (concave nails), skin infections, and dry brittle hair. While iron from animal products is absorbed more efficiently, plant-based eaters are encouraged to incorporate iron from green leafy vegetables like spinach.
If you go down the skincare aisle of your grocery store or drugstore, you’ll probably find cucumber-containing products like body washes, face washes, moisturizers, and face masks.
Cucumbers are made up of 96% water. This beauty food has been used for centuries as a topical treatment for sunburns, swollen eyes, and irritated skin. While cucumbers can be incorporated as a topical treatment to your skincare regime, consuming them can also support your skin health. Here are some components in cucumbers that give us healthy skin!
- Antioxidants: Oxidation reactions are common chemical reactions that happen in our body. They lead to free radicals forming. Our body needs some free radicals to function, yet an imbalance can lead to cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and other illnesses.
Antioxidants are molecules that prevent oxidation reactions from occurring. They do this by searching and discarding free radicals.
- Water: Our skin needs to stay hydrated to remain healthy. The cold weather from fall and winter can lead to dry and irritated skin. While topical treatments will help, it’s important that we’re consuming water and foods high in water.
Can I have that beauty food on the side?
Thanksgiving sides definitely add more variety and color to your plate. Some people also love to load up their plate more with side dishes than the main course. From roasted carrots to sautéed mushrooms, these two vegetables make an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving menu. Let’s explore their skin health benefits.
Carrots are a beauty food and popular root vegetable that come in a variety of colors. They contain phytonutrients, nutrients that are beneficial to human health.
Purple carrots contain a high amount of the phytochemicals, total phenolics, and ⍺-tocopherol.
In contrast, orange carrots contain a high amount of carotenoids such as 𝛽-carotene. 𝛽-carotene is a plant pigment that gives carrots their orange color. It’s also a prerequisite for making vitamin A.
- Antioxidants: Phenolics may have antioxidant properties. This gives carrots their ability to combat free radicals in the body.
Sunlight (UV radiation), pesticides, air pollution, and diet can cause free radicals. They can accelerate our skin’s aging and damage our skin cells. Consuming antioxidant foods can combat free radicals to prevent them from binding and damaging our skin cells.
- Vitamin E: Phytochemical ⍺-tocopherol (also known as vitamin E) is an antioxidant. Our skin is directly exposed to the environment, but oxidative environmental factors can destroy our skin. It’s important to intake the recommended amount of vitamin E daily.
In addition, Vitamin E has photoprotective properties and skin barrier stabilizing properties.
- Carotenoids: Carotenoids like 𝛽-carotene give carrots their bright red-orange pigment. A high intake of 𝛽-carotene vegetables may be protective for nonmelanocytic skin cancer. Once we eat carrots, 𝛽-carotene converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble retinoids involved in immune function, cellular communication, and cell growth.
Edible mushrooms have been used for food, medicine, and cosmetic purposes for centuries. They come in a variety of species including shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms. Mushrooms contain vitamins and minerals including vitamin D.
- Vitamin D: Mushrooms that need sunlight to grow are an excellent source of dietary vitamin D2, D3, and D4. While vitamin D is essential for bone health, it also impacts skin health. Vitamin D may prevent skin aging. Low levels of vitamin D may result in erythema (red skin patches/rash), hyperpigmentation, and skin wrinkling.
- Polysaccharides, terpenoids, and others: Mushrooms contain bioactive compounds including polysaccharides, proteoglucans, terpenoids, phenolic compounds, and steroids. These compounds give mushrooms an anti-inflammatory therapeutic effect.
Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to protect itself from harm. For example, if you cut your finger, your immune system releases white blood cells to the cut to protect it from infection. This is an example of acute inflammation and is normal.
In contrast, chronic inflammation can happen when unwanted substances enter your body. Chronic inflammation occurs in acne vulgaris. Mushrooms’ anti-inflammatory properties may help to reduce inflammation caused by skin conditions like acne.
Do you want healthy skin? Add these to your main dish!
It’s time to plan for your MAIN Thanksgiving dish. Whether you prepare a traditional turkey or prepare a vegan meat-free turkey substitute, you can add seasonings, herbs, and other ingredients to give your main dish flavor. Not only will you leave your guests wanting seconds, but their skin can also enjoy these ingredients!
5. GarlicGarlic is a food used as medicine for centuries to treat illnesses such as colds, infections, and diabetes. It also contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
- Allicin: Allicin is an organosulfur compound that’s the most biologically active component in garlic. It gives garlic its antibacterial properties that may help to kill bacteria that cause acne.
Allicin and other garlic compounds inhibited cancer cell growth. For example, it’s induced apoptosis in skin tumor cell lines.
- Vitamin B6: Two forms of Vitamin B6 high in garlic are pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (PLP) and pyridoxal (PL). Deficiency in vitamin B6 may lead to the suppression of skin’s collagen regeneration. Thus vitamin B6 may be essential for proper skin maintenance.
Just like garlic, lemon has been commonly used for centuries to treat illnesses. Lemon can be used as a topical treatment for anti-aging and wound-healing. Its flavonoid compounds give the fruit its vibrant color. They also give lemons antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits such as lemons are one of the largest contributors of humans’ daily dietary vitamin C needs. Healthy skin contains a high vitamin C concentration. However when you age, your skin will experience loss of elasticity, wrinkling, discoloration, and drying. Vitamin C may provide protection against this accelerated aging.
The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C may increase the skin’s resistance to UV exposure. Vitamin C may also be necessary in forming the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Thus vitamin C could aid in protecting the skin from water loss. The loss of water could potentially help prevent dry skin conditions.
- Flavonoids: Citrus fruit peels contain a high amount of flavonoids. Flavonoids have many properties including antimicrobial properties. Lemon juice may prevent skin infections and acne.
Are you ready for dessert?
You’ve planned your appetizers, side dishes, and the main dish. Finally, to conclude your unforgettable Thanksgiving meal, it’s time for dessert. Two easy ingredients that you can incorporate into a delicious pie, cake, or casserole include sweet potato and cinnamon.
7. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a common fall root vegetable that are large, starchy, and sweet. This beauty food is also a superfood, as it provides over 90% of nutrients per calorie required for most individuals. The valuable nutrients and minerals that this vegetable provides include:
49% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C
100% of the RDA for vitamin A
15% of the RDA for potassium
10% of RDA for iron.
- Carotenoids: While sweet potatoes do not contain actual vitamin A, they contain the vitamin A precursor 𝛽-carotene and other carotenoids. Our bodies can convert the carotenoids to vitamin A. Vitamin A maintains healthy skin cell production and also acts as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals to prevent damaging cell tissues.
Cinnamon spice is a great additive to baked desserts and teas. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties. Cinnamon also has free radical scavenging abilities and wound healing properties.
- o-Methoxycinnamaldehyde: o-Methoxycinnamaldehyde in cinnamon inhibits the growth of microorganisms. The antimicrobial properties from cinnamon may aid in helping bacterial skin infections.
- 2’-hydroxycinnamicaldehyde (2’-HCA): 2’-HCA inhibits Pim-1 kinase, an enzyme that maintains skin cancer cell survival. Cinnamon may have antitumor properties.
Beautiful and healthy skin from Thanksgiving foods
Despite the challenges that we’re facing in 2020, I hope that this Thanksgiving you can share a memorable meal with your loved ones! While you’re enjoying your delicious meal, remember that your skin may also be receiving benefits from each bite you take.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Share with me in the comments below!
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I love you all, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. The author does not guarantee the completeness, accuracy, or usefulness of any information and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Please consult your medical doctor before applying any of this information. Please review the references cited in this article for scientific support of any claims made.