Fat free has almost become a cornerstone in many households. It is certainly something of a fixture on modern restaurant menus. And industries have catered to the fat free preoccupation by supplying foods labeled fat free and low fat, as well as herbal and medical products that block fat metabolism. But the bottom line on the beauty and health fronts, is that if you want beautiful skin with fewer wrinkles, or to speed up your metabolism, you need to eat the right kind of fats.
The benefits to your skin of eating the right fats daily are many. Beneficial fats stimulate the production of collagen, improves the blood flow in the layer below the skin that supplies nutrients for the creation of new, healthy skin cells. Poor quality blood flow here means under performing new skin cells. Fats keep the skin moist, from the inside. Fats are crucial for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamin – A, D, E, and K. And the beneficial phytonutrients like carotene, lycopene and lutein need fat to be absorbed also.
For example, eating salad with a dressing containing fats increases the absorption of these phytonutrients. A study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (and referenced in Gorgeous Skin by E Angyal) found that those who ate a salad with a low fat dressing had very little alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene in blood tests taken afterwards. Those who had a full fat dressing with the salad had noticeably higher levels of these carotenes and lycopene metabolites in their blood.
Fats also help produce and regulate hormones, reduce inflammation (the right fats anyway), and prevent eczema, psoriasis, and hair loss.
According to Erica Angyal, you need about 2tbsp, or 20 grams of fats per day so the skin can lubricate itself, and so enough vitamin A can be absorbed. Vitamin A prevents premature aging.
Erica Angyal recommends olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil, mustard seed oil, avocado oil, soy oil, macadamia oil, and canola oil. She suggests using extra virgin, virgin, cold pressed oils where they are available, as these are always much better quality, and the way they are processed means unhealthy chemical changes to the oils are avoided. Of the oils here, the mono unsaturated oils are olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, as well as the oil from cold water fish, like swordfish, mackerel and salmon. Mono unsaturated oils can reduce wrinkles. The polyunsaturated oils are flaxseed, walnut, pumpkin seed, and canola oil. For the reasons outlined below, I would not personally use these to gain the bulk of needed daily fats. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but extremely good for you.
I love this stuff. Not only does it have a beautiful aroma when it is good quality, cold pressed coconut oil, but it has amazing health benefits that go beyond great looking skin. Aging, including aging of the brain and skin, is associated with a process called ‘peroxidation’. This simply means that free radicals remove an oxygen electron from the fats (lipids) in our cellular membranes. Ultraviolet light, from the sun, causes peroxidation in unsaturated fats, both in the laboratory and in your skin. This increases the rate at which wrinkles form.
And unsaturated fats, like regular vegetable oils, decrease the metabolic rate. Unsaturated fats suppress the response of the body’s tissues to thyroid hormone. Unsaturated fats inhibit the protein digestive enzyme that forms thyroid hormone, as well as damaging the mitochondria in cells, which relates to cellular energy production. Coconut oil counteracts these unwelcome effects of unsaturated fats.
Coconut oil it is incredibly versatile. Because it is so stable, it can be used in cooking without becoming hydrogenated. And it doesn’t change the flavor of the food, despite its strong aroma. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids. These are not stored in the cells like other fats but go directly to the liver which converts them into energy. The shorter chain length allows them to bypass the metabolic pathway that other longer chain fats need to use. Coconut oil is the only saturated fat that is good for the body.
Interestingly, Dr Mercola’s website quotes an article by Dr Ray Peat in which he mentions that when so called essential fatty acids were used in patients fed intravenously, their immune systems were suppressed. Consequently, coconut oil is used instead. The only exceptions are in cases where immunosuppression is needed, such as in organ transplant patients. The essential fatty acids are the omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Examples are flaxseed oil, the oils of cold water fish like salmon, evening primrose oil, and sunflower oil.
2. Erica Angyal, Gorgeous Skin In 30 Days (Lothian Books, 2005)