By Petra Guglielmetti, Glamour
We're going to go out on a limb here and say that our dermatologists probably wouldn't be wildly supportive of our latte consumption levels right now. Whatever--it's called winter survival mode. But thinking about this did get us wondering: Are there any winter comfort foods that actually do helpful, pretty things to our skin? We decided to pose that question to a nutritionist with great skin, Tammy Lakatos Shames, who indulged us with the following list of delicious things we can justify enjoying when the cabin fever is strong.
Hot cocoa: Though at first it doesn't seem much more virtuous than your latte, cocoa is a rich source of phytonutrients called flavanols, which support healthy circulation and improve the flow of oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. Meaning: glowier skin too. To enjoy these benefits, Lakatos Shames recommends making your own cocoa at home using raw cacao, not sipping processed cocoa. "Traditional cocoa powder is processed in a way that removes a lot of the nutrients present in the raw cacao bean that chocolate is made from," she says.
Mashed sweet potatoes: Swapping sweet potatoes in for the regular white kind gives this traditional comfort food new virtue. "Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, which not only fights free radical damage but is anti-inflammatory, so it helps keep acne flareups at bay," Lakatos Shames says. "Also, Vitamin A helps maintain the outer layer of your skin by sloughing off old cells and helping to grow new ones."
Cinnamon-spiced cider: Turns out, cinnamon does more than just make things smell yummy--go ahead and add it to your list of foods rich in protective, complexion-boosting antioxidants (and sprinkle it into your cider or cocoa, or drop a stick of it in).
Scrambled eggs: Here's a new argument for taking the time to make yourself a hot breakfast (or ordering one on Seamless): eggs help keep skin looking plump and young since they're packed with protein. "Collagen is made from protein and it's responsible for our skin's elasticity," Lakatos Shames explains.
Related: 8 Super-Easy Steps for Looking Flawless--Fast!
Pasta marinara: If you're ready to carbo-load and nobody can stop you, don't skip the red sauce, which as a concentrated source of tomatoes is rich in Vitamin C. This vitamin aids in the formation of collagen and contains beta-carotene, which helps to give skin healthy glow and color. "Tomatoes also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the skin from damage, including acting as a natural sunscreen," Lakatos Shames says. Bonus points: Make a pasta primavera or veggie lasagna to get servings of antioxidant-rich vegetables too.
Soup: You already knew this was a relatively healthy comfort food, but here's further encouragement to treat yourself to it often this winter. "Soups low in sodium, usually those made at home, can be great for the skin since they're hydrating and help to plump up the skin," Lakatos Shames says. "Keep in mind, though, that a soup high in sodium (more than 400 mg per serving) can do the opposite since it can be dehydrating." Ideally, choose a soup packed with vegetables to help flush away toxins that cause inflammation. "Choosing vegetables that are the brightest in color will provide the most benefits, since they typically have the most powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants," she adds. "A homemade chicken soup with vegetables is a great pick since the chicken is also rich in protein."
Tea: Maybe swap out one of those daily lattes for decaf tea, which boasts plenty of skin benefits. "It's packed with polyphenols and can help keep your skin hydrated, reverse the effects of UV damage, and reduce inflammation," Lakatos Shames says.
Pie: Yeah, we managed to get pie on the list, albeit with some caveats. "Although not weight-loss-friendly, when it comes to the skin, pumpkin pie and apple pie can have benefits if not overeaten," our expert admits, adding that, "the benefits can quickly be outweighed by sugar and fat if it's not a small portion." Her reasoning: Pumpkin pie is rich in beta carotene and vitamin A. Apples contain flavonoids that prevent chemicals, pollution, and stress from harming the body--and skin.
Walnut brownies: Here's one last splurge you can justify as long as you stick to one small serving. "Walnuts are great for fighting inflammation thanks to their Omega 3s, and they're also rich in vitamin E," our nutritionist signs off. We're not sure we can handle the one-serving rule on this one, but hey, at least bikini season's a long way off?