Fat has been made out to be the villain in the diet wars for years, but studies have shown that fat is essential for proper body function. That includes the largest organ:  Your skin.

Of course, not all fats are made the same.   Although your body needs a bit of everything to survive, Western diets are much too high in Saturated and trans fatty acids.  Found prevalently in fast and processed foods, Americans tend to gulp down more than their fair share, leading to high cholesterol levels, unhealthy weight gain, and heart disease.

How do “bad fats” affect our skin?

True, a lot of these fatty foods contain chemicals and lack proper nutrition for your body, which can also make your skin a mess, but often times, your extra blemishes are created from the unhealthy fats.  Anything that’s fried releases toxins and free radicals, which are known to clog pores and make your skin age more quickly.  Free radicals also promote inflammation, which can leave you open to acne and other nasty things on your skin.  Also, a diet full of bad fats can make weight gain inevitable, which can lead to stretch marks and Acacthosis Nigricans (abnormal thickening and darkening of the skin).

Which fats benefit our skin?

Essential fatty acids.  We’ve already extolled the virtues of omega-3 fatty acids and we’re going to add omega-6s into the mix of “good fats,” as well.  These fabulous fats can help keep your cell membranes strong.  They also keep your skin looking hydrated and more youthful looking.  Omegas are anti-inflammatory agents, which may help with the inflammation and irritation of acne and psoriasis.  If you don’t get enough omegas, the opposite might happen, leaving your skin dry and prone to break-outs, not to mention prone to getting blackheads and whiteheads.   So, essential fatty acids are literally essential to your body.  They are not just a suggested substitute for other fats, but an important part of a total-health meal plan.

How do you incorporate essential fatty acids into your diet?  What benefits have you seen?

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