If you read my newsletter from a few weeks ago you’ll recall that I had mentioned how lucky I am now have an amazing new intern working along side me! Samantha, the owner of www.SamanthaVanDeWal.com. is a recent grad of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and she’s been helping me to create some great content for our upcoming 10 DAY SPRING DETOX. She has also written an amazing post below is filled with educational goodness all about healthy fats and how they tie in to skin health (one of my favourite topics!). I love Sam’s writing because she packs so much great information it to a single post, yet it is so easy to read and understand (she’s got that whole teacher thing happening because she’s also a recent M.Ed grad!).
Read on to learn why if you want to get glowing skin you’d better eat your fats. Also, check out the amazing recipe she’s come up with (just one of the amazing recipes we’re offering as part of the DETOX beginning next week).
Want Glowing Skin? Eat Fat!
Eating fat for healthy, glowing skin? I get it… for the past few decades we were told that fats are bad, and as a result, we were guided to purchase “low fat” options and fat-substituting formulas like margarine instead of butter and egg whites out of a carton. (I, too, was a victim of purchasing these manufactured products.) So of course, this idea of eating fat for healthy, glowing skin seems pretty abstract! But what came of this “low fat” movement? An incredibly obese North American society with increased risk of Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer, not to mention, it began the rise of yoyo dieting.
But… what’s it good for anyway?
Did you know that phospholipids make up the outer layer of our cells? The term “lipids” actually refers to fatty acids – so, ya… fats are what make up the outer layer of our cells. What’s that mean? Well, for one, it means that we NEED good healthy fats in order to keep this layer kickin’ (literally! Healthy fats impact the fluidity of the cells’ membranes). And for two, since these lipids surround the cell, it means they’re in charge of what goes in, and what goes out. We want our cells to be better able to hold in things like WATER, vitamins, and minerals, so that we have a higher capacity to combat free radical (i.e., toxins) damage from things like second-hand smoke, fried food, air pollution, and chemical products.
The fact that phospholipids have the capacity to hold in water is absolutely essential for our overall health and wellbeing. We wear this fact-of-the-matter on our skin. The plumpness and the glow of our skin are therefore attributed to the health of our cells, which relies most on these phospholipids that require fat for fuel! Sagging skin or dull, lifeless skin is the result of dehydration (water not being held inside the cell by the phospholipids), a lack of good, healthy fat consumption, and toxic build up.
Let’s talk about trans fats, baby:
FAT, though, is a general term that can mean anything from McDonalds to avocado. This means that there are huge differences between the different kinds of fat. Fat fast food, like deep friend French fries, processed meats, cheeses and burgers (including the bun!) are swimming in what are called “trans fats” (yeah, you’ve heard this one before!) This is because most fast food places use hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils for deep-frying, since the oil “lasts longer.” But even chips, crackers, baked goods containing shortening, and non-dairy creamer (yes, that tasty Irish creamer you’re using) contain this oil since it acts like a preservative, thereby increasing the food’s shelf life. Trans fats are not found in nature: they are manufactured fatty acids – so since our body isn’t in tune with this man-made, processed type of fat, our body deems it toxic and throws up the caution flags!
Consumption of trans fats is known to cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and blood vessel damage. When you hear “inflammation,” think redness, itchiness, rashes… when you hear “oxidative stress,” think wrinkles, brown spots… when you hear “blood vessel damage” think circulation issues (even heart attack!). The toxins that come from trans fats make their way into our cells, of course – because if we’re not consuming good fats, we’re consuming trans fats, or no fats at all! So enough about the bad guys, let’s talk good guys…
Good fats? What’s it all mean…
Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are considered the healthiest fats around. Both are vital for our health + wellbeing. Mono-unsaturated fats are found in olive oil and our feature star, avocados, which are chalk full of heart-healthy nutrients, that stimulate cell formation to have us looking renewed and rejuvenated, and antioxidants, that remove toxins from our body. Mono-unsaturated fats are the key players in hydration + moisturizing, from the inside out!
Poly-unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are those fats that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids so highly raved about. So why’s everybody talking about these guys, anyways? Well, we need to be consuming them because our body doesn’t do so well without them. After all, they are called essential fatty acids for a reason! So let’s dig deeper…
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to the health of our skin, since they feed the phospholipids, helping to keep the cell membrane in tact. This leaves the cell plump and supple. This creates the anti-wrinkle (anti-aging) effect. Omega-3s have also been studied to combat inflammation, which impacts the aging process. Like I said earlier, inflammation also causes redness and irritation (like eczema, acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and of course, dry skin), in which omega-3s can help to decrease the severity. A diet high in carbohydrates can cause tremendous inflammation, since carbohydrates drive our insulin levels to increase, and insulin is an inflammatory compound. After all, a diet high in carbohydrates and low in healthy fats is what ultimately has caused the rise in Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and is said by some practitioners to be one of the causes of cancer. To get the richest effect from omega-3s, opt for fish oil supplements higher in EPA (that’s eicosapentaenoic acid) than DHA (that’s docosahexaenoic acid), since EPA has a higher capacity to reduce inflammation. Things like salmon, mackerel, sardines + anchoives (yep!), tuna, and even eggs are rich sources. For additional omega-3 food sources, seek out chia / flax / and pumpkin seeds, which so easily can be added to just about anything. And, if you’re needing a new moisturizer, try this one, which is rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (FYI, this is one of my favourite products!).
- Omega-6 fatty acids – Omega-6 fatty acids are another essential fatty acid. These are found in plant sources like hemp, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds and oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are unique, since they actually have the capacity to be converted to a thing called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins can be amazing hormone-like substances that can help to keep the blood thin, can decrease inflammation, can improve nerve function, and help balance our blood sugar; but, some forms can be detrimental, causing the opposite effect. Omega-6 fatty acids found in primarily red meat sources and dairy are converted to these forms of prostaglandins, which can have quite the opposite effect on our health. In such case, opt for consuming omega-6 fatty acids from the plant-sources that I’ve mentioned above, or supplementing with evening primrose oil or borage oil, which are very rich sources of omega-6 fatty acids that protect our health! Omega-6 fatty acids can help to achieve glowing skin by reducing the redness I’ve so frequently talked about, but by also controlling skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, specifically. They will help to lock-in moisture!
And what about saturated fat?
Sometimes labeled as another “bad fat,” saturated fat can have health benefits. One example of a healthy saturated fat is coconut oil, which we know can have tremendous health benefits. Coconut oil is nourishing to our cells, and can be used to cook on high temperatures. Some other forms of saturated fats are things like ghee, meat, and… you guessed it, BUTTER! If organic and grass fed, these forms of fat can keep us fuller, longer and offer tremendous health benefits, too. This is why butter is back! Butter is an excellent source of skin-loving antioxidant vitamin E, as well as essential fatty acids that help boost immunity, enhance metabolism, and prevent diabetes, unlike it’s ugly duckling cousin, margarine, which is chalk-full of trans fats and can cause only damage to our bodies!
The kicker with cooking fat…
When making your own food, watch what oils you are using to fry + bake your food in. As a general rule of thumb, polyunsaturated fats are unsafe for cooking, since they cannot be heated on high temperatures. In fact, heating your oils above threshold levels causes the oils to shift their chemical structure from good fat to bad fat, meaning they actually create trans fats and all of its oxidative damage! Try cooking your food in avocado oil or coconut oil, as these oils can withstand high heat. Avoid using olive oil, which can only be heated to approximately 350oF. And absolutely never, ever, ever cook, bake, fry, heat, whatever your food in oils such as hemp seed, flax seed, fish oil – because all you’re doing is making a good thing bad!
You can still have your dessert & of course eat it too…
The best part about this post is that we’ve come up with a skin-loving, healthy fat dessert that will keep you fuller, longer, and will keep you glowing from the inside out. We’ve included some cell-loving avocados and coconut oil for you to nourish your glow (and your sweet tooth too!). On top of that, raw cacao is one of the richest sources of antioxidants, so prepare to sweep away oxidative stress that’s been wearing on your skin.
Skin Healthy Chocolate Mousse
- 1 ½ avocado, peeled + pitted
- ½ cup whole fat coconut milk
- 1 ½ tbsp pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- Place avocado, coconut milk, maple syrup, + raw cacao powder in a high speed blender or food processor
- Begin by blending on low speed until contents have reached a pudding-like consistency
- While blending on low speed, add melted coconut oil
- Ensure lid is on blender or food processor + rev up the blender
- Blend on high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute to create the mousse-like texture
- Serve in bowls + top with fruit of choice
- Sprinkle with chia / flax / hemp / pumpkin seeds for an extra healthy fat boost!
So go on, enjoy your healthy fat dessert, and after… continue to enjoy your healthy fats! I’ll be sure to feature more recipes with healthy fats so that you can get creative in the kitchen, all while enjoying the skin-loving nutritional boost and flavour of healthy fats!
Enjoy, guys! And tell me all about how your healthy fat journey goes! (Oh! And if you made the chocolate mousse recipe and LOVED it!)
Yours in health,
Samantha Van De Wal, MEd, is a Holistic Nutritionist, Educator, and Owner of www.SamanthaVanDeWal.com. Samantha believes that health is more than the absence of disease and that true holistic health is about tuning into one’s body, mind, and soul. By sharing her knowledge, Samantha empowers her readers and viewers to make holistic, health-conscious choices based on their individual health goals. Currently she offers nutritional consultations, public speaking, and workplace wellness services across Ontario, Canada. Visit her website, www.SamanthaVanDeWal.com, to download a Free Guide to Plant Based Protein, and follow her on Instagram @samanthavandewal to receive more info, daily!