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Some Essential Fatty Acids Aid Healthy Skin

Banning fats from your diet in a quest to whittle that waist? Your skin won't thank you. Healthy bodies need healthy fats—and healthy skin needs essential fatty acids.

Natural skin care with essential fatty acids
They're called essential fatty acids (EFA) for a reason—your body needs them! And it doesn't make EFAs on its own; you only get them from the foods you eat.

Key elements in a natural skin care diet, essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes. These polyunsaturated fats also help produce the skin's natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger-looking.

If you're not getting enough EFAs in your diet, your skin may be dry, inflamed, and prone to whiteheads and blackheads. Yet there's more to essential fatty acids than plumper skin.

Essential fatty acids: skin care and body booster
EFAs can be real skin care powerhouses. Research suggests that they may not only reduce sun sensitivity in those with photodermatitis, they may also diminish the inflammation associated with acne. Other studies found that psoriasis treatment that included medication and EFA supplementation was more successful than treatment with medication alone.

And omega-3s help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and prostate cancer, as well as reduce symptoms of hypertension, ADHD, joint pain, and depression. They may even boost your immunity and forestall Alzheimer's disease. Those are some powerful body-boosting fats!

Choosing healthy fats for natural skin care
If you're ready to boost your body and skin with these smart fats, here's what you need to know: Most of us have diets woefully short on omega-3s and too rich in omega-6s. To boost body and skin, the idea is to keep these nutrients in balance, easier to do when you know their sources.

Omega-3s are found in:
* Salmon
* Mackerel
* Flax
* Safflower oil
* Walnuts
* Sardines
* Soy
* Fortified eggs

Omega-6s are generally found in:
* Baked goods
* Cooking oils
* Poultry
* Grains
 
A well-balanced diet contains proteins, carbohydrates, and these good-for-you fats. Healthy fats are vital to healthy bodies—and great skin!

SOURCES: University of Maryland Medical Center: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids." Health Guidance: "Treat Acne With Essential Fatty Acids." Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute: Dictionary. WebMD Feature: "The ABCs of a Healthy Skin Diet," "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out," "Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Facts About Omega-3." WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column: "Food for Men: 10 Foods to Boost Male Health."

By Wendy C. Fries, WebMD, December 19, 2007

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