Acne can be an emotionally distressing condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne may result in low self-esteem, social withdrawal, anger and even depression. Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as good or healthy fats, have a wide range of benefits including improving inflammatory conditions such as acne. Unlike acne medications, which can aggravate the skin and cause other side effects, omega-3 fatty acids are a safe, healthy way to reduce or even eliminate acne breakouts.
A 2004 study published in the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine found that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids reduced acne lesions when combined with a low glycemic diet (meaning little to no white flour). Acne sufferers should switch to a diet low in sugar and white flour and high in fish, nuts and whole grains.
Like everything else, even too much good fat can be a bad thing. The USDA recommends that total fat intake remains between 20 and 35 percent of total caloric intake. That’s between 400 and 700 calories based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Just 10 percent of those calories should come from saturated fats found in meat and dairy products. The remaining fats should come from healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids.
Types of Food
Omega-3’s are found in fish like salmon, trout, tuna and herring. The American Heart Association recommends eating a 3.5 oz. serving of fish at least two times per week. Nuts are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Try topping salads with almonds or walnuts, or just grab a handful as a healthy snack between meals.
Children and pregnant women are advised to avoid fish that is exceptionally high in mercury such as swordfish and king mackerel. Talk to an obstetrician or pediatrician about how much and which types of fish are safe to consume on a regular basis.
Other individuals concerned with mercury contamination should consume green or black tea with their fish. Muscle and Fitness Magazine reported in its April 2010 issue that black and green teas reduced mercury absorption by as much as 92 percent. Their reporting comes from a study conducted at Purdue University where participants were given tea along with mercury-contaminated mackerel. Unfortunately, green tea and caffeine are not advised for pregnant women, so this is not a good option for them.
Omega-3 supplements are available in a variety of forms including krill oil, cod liver oil, fish oil and flaxseed. They are a great substitute for people who are allergic to fish or who simply aren’t getting enough in their diet. Try talking to a health care provider about which type of supplement to take and how much to consume.
- American Academy of Dermatology: The Social Impact of Acne
- American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicines: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Acne
- USDA: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005
- The American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- “Muscle & Fitness”; A Cup of Tea With Your Mercury?; April 2010