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Healthy Fats for Healthy Skin

For decades the medical community has been touting a low-fat diet for heart health. Over the years, their understanding of fats and the effect they have on our bodies has been refined, so we now know that it is primarily saturated fat, triglycerides and excess sugar (which your body converts to fat) that need to be avoided. Unfortunately, the latest medical knowledge is not so quickly relayed to or received by the masses. Consequently, Americans may be missing out on the health—and skin benefits—of essential fatty acids.

What Are “Healthy Fats”

The body needs fat as building blocks for various compounds and structures, including skin cell membranes that are vital to protecting you from environmental toxins and dehydration. The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs by converting what we eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet into the specific molecular compounds required. But, there are two types of fatty acids that the body needs but cannot make—Omega-3 (alpha linoleic acid) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid). The only way the body gets these fats is by eating foods with Omega-3 and -6 already in them. The larger fatty compounds that carry Omega-3 and Omega-6 are what are called “healthy fats” since they are essential to delivering complete nutrition to your body for optimal function

EFAD and Your Skin

The low-fat craze, while fueling weight loss and cardiovascular health movements, has had a downside for some—essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD). People who cut out all (or nearly all) fat from their diet do not get the Omega-3 and -6 they need.

Essential fatty acids are integral to the structure and function of healthy skin. So, when the body experiences EFAD, skin health deterioration is a diagnostic criterion. Signs of EFAD include:

  • Dermatitis
  • Scaly skin
  • Excessive dryness

EFAD may also exacerbate skin sensitivity, causing people to experience irritation and inflammation in response to many skincare products, even those formulated to be gentle.

How to Get the Right Fats in Your Diet

You can get the essential fatty acids you need without risking your heart health or weight loss goals. All you need to do is incorporate the right foods in moderate amounts.

To boost Omega-3 levels, eat: To boost Omega-6 levels, eat:
·         Sunflower seeds

·         Safflower (oil)

·         Evening primrose

·         Borage

·         Flaxseed

·         Fatty fish, like cod and salmon

 

You may be able to boost Omega-3 and -6 levels through supplements, like evening primrose oil and/or borage seed oil capsules. But if you prefer to eat your healthy fats, adhering to suggested serving sizes will ensure you get the right amount of healthy fat without excessive caloric intake.

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