You may have heard the claim that meals with fat could result in acne breakouts. Even those on a ketogenic diet — one that involves replacing most of their carbohydrate intake with fat — often cite acne as a common side-effect of such a diet. This makes people even more wary of including fat in their diets, in addition to its link with an assortment of other health issues, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. However, studies indicate that fat is, in fact, one of the major components of our skin. Without it, our skin would quickly lose its natural suppleness since our body is unable to sufficiently produce healthy skin cells. What appears to be making a crucial difference here is the type of fat that we’re consuming. Not all fats are as bad as they sound and some of them can, in fact, greatly improve our skin health. Let’s take a closer look.


The Healthy Ones: Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are typically found in plant-based foods such as seeds and nuts as well as certain fatty fishes. Foods that are rich in unsaturated fats are known for their numerous associated health benefits, such as aiding in the improvement of our cardiovascular health. In fact, unsaturated fats can also help reduce inflammation in our body, including our skin, and are precisely why unsaturated fats are often dubbed as ‘healthy fat’. In addition, unsaturated fats are found to be helpful in maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels by improving the ratio of good HDL cholesterol to bad LDL cholesterol in our bloodstream. Furthermore, eating more unsaturated fats than saturated fats is also known to be able to curb diabetes by preventing our body from developing resistance to insulin.

However, studies indicate that most of us tend to neglect them, even though they’re often highly recommended by nutritionists. Check the nutritional labels whenever you buy anything in the supermarket to ensure that you’re getting the unsaturated fats you need. Most nutritional labels specifically cite the two different types of unsaturated fats separately:

Monounsaturated Fat

This is the sort of fat that is more commonly found in plants and plant-based oils such as canola and sunflower oil. Monounsaturated fats are named thusly because its structure consists of only one double bond. Its structure is why monounsaturated fats usually exist as liquids at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated Fat

In contrast, polyunsaturated fats contain more than one double bond in their structure, as their name suggests. One of the most beneficial types of polyunsaturated fats for optimal skin health includes omega-3 fatty acids. These are commonly found in fatty fishes, such as salmon, trout, swordfish, as well as tuna. Some plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts.


Saturated Fat

Compared to unsaturated fats, these fats are named thusly because they contain no double bonds, which means that their carbon atoms are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms. That’s why saturated fats are usually in solid form at room temperatures. Most food sources contain all types of fat in varying levels, but saturated fats are commonly found in higher amounts in animal-based foods, such as beef, chicken, and ice cream.

There is actually little evidence to indicate any relationship between saturated fat and acne. In fact, saturated fats are usually as helpful in the maintenance of skin health as unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are also often falsely accused of causing cardiovascular disease by raising levels of bad LDL cholesterol, even though numerous studies have already proven otherwise. Nevertheless, most health guidelines still recommend replacing them with more unsaturated fats since unsaturated fats offer us more benefits that vastly outweigh those of saturated fats.


Trans Fat

Trans fats are precisely the sort of fats that you should be avoiding. Although they may be naturally found in beef and dairy, they are usually more prevalent in pre-packaged foods since they add flavour and extend the product’s shelf-life. However, as delicious as they may be, even small amounts of trans fats can be harmful to our health. Ideally, we should be completely eliminating trans fats from our diet since they present us with practically zero real health benefits while offering us a whole range of health issues instead.

These are the sort of fats that can be made through hydrogenation, which is a process that involves heating liquid vegetable oil in the presence of a catalyst and hydrogen gas. This tends to happen in the manufacturing process of many pre-packaged foods such as cookies sold in supermarkets. Trans fats are usually the ones that lower good HDL cholesterol levels and raise bad LDL cholesterol. This disrupts the delicate balance of cholesterol in our bloodstream, thus leading to unhealthy blood cholesterol levels. Trans fats also tend to cause inflammation, which can result in an increased risk of stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and poor skin health when consumed in excessive amounts.