the Top Beauty Nutrients: Part 3 - Fats
Essential fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6 types) are amazing for keeping the skin beautiful. They are literally essential, meaning they must be consumed daily for us to be well, inside and outside, as we cannot create them from other fats we eat or generate. Medium-chain triglycerides, in particular lauric acid are also critical for inner health and outer beauty.
Dry, inflamed skin, or skin that suffers from the frequent appearance of whiteheads or blackheads, can benefit from supplementing with essential fatty acids. The body cannot produce its own essential fatty acids, so it must be obtained through the diet. They are critical in skin repair, moisture content and overall flexibility.
Some essential fatty acid deficiency signs include dandruff, dull skin, cracked heels (on the feet), skin sensitivity, keratosis pilaris, which are often described as a "chicken skin" appearance on the backs of arms and legs (which may also be caused by too much fruit in the diet).
The typical Western diet is overabundant in omega-6 fatty acids - which are found in many processed foods, baked good, and grains - and sorely lacking in omega-3s. Dietary sources for omega-3s include cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
All fats and oils are made up of fat molecules called fatty acids. There are 2 ways of classifying fatty acids. One is based on saturation; saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The second method of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain in the fatty acid. There are short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Another term often seen in reference to fatty acids is triglyceride. Three fatty acids joined together form a triglyceride, so you may have short-chain triglycerides (SCT), medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), or long-chain triglycerides (LCT).
Medium-chain fatty acids tend to primarily produce energy, so are less likely to be stored as body fat. One MCFA in particular, lauric acid has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, with research supporting the claim that it can be 15 times more powerful than benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in many acne medications and face washes, when it comes to killing the bacteria involved in acne.
Both coconut and butter contain lauric acid. Butter from pasture-fed cows also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a relative of lauric acid, which research has shown to have both anti-cancer properties as well as anti-inflammatory actions.