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Healthy fats, healthy skin

Healthy skin depends on a healthy diet. However, for many of us, cleaning up our eating generally means cutting out fats. While exchanging oily potato chips and greasy fried foods for baked sweet potatoes and grilled vegetables are skin-friendly swaps, it’s important to keep the right kinds of fat on the menu for optimal dermatologic health.

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What are the right fats to eat for great skin?

Foods rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids pack the greatest skin benefits. These essential fatty acids are, well, essential to plump, elastic skin - moisturizing from the inside out. Offering more than cosmetic improvements, fats help reduce the inflammation that causes acne, ensure the absorption of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and may even help protect against some types of skin cancer.

Omega 3s are responsible for transporting nourishing vitamins like:

  • Vitamin A or retinol is critical for skin cell and hair growth.
  • Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” and helps slow the signs of aging on skin.
  • Vitamin E prevents damage from free radicals like UV rays and pollution.
  • Vitamin K is essential to clotting; it helps heal damaged skin.

Omega 6 fatty acids keep skin hydrated.

Making up cell membranes, Omega 6s ensure our skin remains smooth and supple. When there are not enough of these lipids in our diets, we often find ourselves with dry, cracked skin. In fact, studies show a link between severe dermatitis and chronic Omega 6 deficiencies.

What fatty foods are the healthiest for my skin?

You can find omega-3 fatty acids in foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, and oily fish such as salmon and anchovies.

Omega 6 fatty acids are found in avocados, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.

With all the fatty benefits of avocados, seeds, and nuts, smearing a bit of avocado onto a slice of multigrain flax bread topped with a few seeds can be the tastiest remedy for dry skin.


De Mel, Damitha, and Cenk Suphioglu. “Fishy business: effect of omega-3 fatty acids on zinc transporters and free zinc availability in human neuronal cells.” Nutrients vol. 6,8 3245-58. 15 Aug. 2014, doi:10.3390/nu6083245

Black, Homer S, and Lesley E Rhodes. “Potential Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 5,2 23. 4 Feb. 2016, doi:10.3390/jcm5020023

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Lack of omega-6 fatty acid linked to severe dermatitis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2010.