5 Holiday Foods With Surprising Anti-Aging Benefits

Anti-aging probably isn't the first word that comes to mind when it comes to those delicious (and calorific) Thanksgiving pies, casseroles and comfort drinks you'll be enjoying soon. Though the holidays can take a serious toll on your diet, pant size and well, willpower, not all has to be lost. Here are some foods that pack an anti-aging punch and are sure to be found on any holiday buffet or potluck.

1. Sweet potatoes
mashed sweet potatoes
It's too bad we tend to only remember this incredible food around the holidays when it's sugared and buttered up in dishes like sweet potato pie or topped with marshmallows. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and C and copper. Vitamin A helps encourage cell turnover and is actually found in many anti-aging products. Copper has been known to increase collagen production, which gives skin its elasticity and firmness.

But try to take it easy on the pies, and opt to have these baked or simply mashed with a bit of cinnamon.

2. Cranberries
Not everyone is a fan of this slight bitter, tart fruit. But come holiday time, it's hard not to see it in everything, from festive cocktails to tangy sauces. Blueberries may be a commonly-touted superfood, but this berry comes in close. Not only is the fruit low in calories, it also has more antioxidants than broccoli and spinach, according to WebMD. The antioxidants in cranberries not only help fight cell damage, which occurs with age, but they also fight inflammation, a key cause in many diseases. Yale University researchers said in a study from last year that inflammation is causally linked to aging.

We're not sure cranberry cheesecake has a ton of nutritional value, so we'd say stick to the berry in it's simplest form and opt for it in juices -- as long as there isn't a ton of added sugar.

3. Beets
This might not be the most sinful of the holiday foods, but it's definitely a good option. The brightly-colored plant root is bursting with vitamins A and C, as well as iron, manganese and fiber. It also contained betaine, a compound, which nutritionist Leslie Beck says has anti-aging properties, by protecting cell damage and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Eating beets has also been shown to improve blood flow and aid in weight loss. Some studies have even suggested beet juice can help increase your endurance -- perfect for your post-Thanksgiving gym visits.

4. Green Beans
green beans
Green beans really are the unsung, overlooked hero on your holiday buffet table. The vegetable, most commonly found in the form of green bean casserole, is a great source of vitamin C and mineral silicon. Vitamin C protects your cells from damage by free radicals, while silicon, is central to bone health and connective tissue, including skin.

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without our favorite casserole -- so instead of suggesting you nix it, in favor of plain green beans, try to opt for a skinnier version of the classic.

5. Root Veggies
carrots turnips
These forgotten fellas are literally overshadowed by the Thanksgiving turkey. Some simply think of these as garnish for the centerpiece, but don't underestimate these vegetables. Carrots in particular have benefits that are more than just skin deep. While they are rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C, they are also rich in beta carotene, which can help protect your eyes from macular degeneration. Parsnips are rich in folate, which your body needs to have healthy hair.

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