The cold season is approaching. And with it often dry skin. If even creams do not bring any improvement, a new strategy must be found. You can also take care of your skin from the inside. Omega-3 fatty acids play a major role here. But with a vegan diet, you have to combine them wisely to get enough of them.
Beautiful skin thanks to omega-3: is it also vegan?
The optimal lipid supply begins with eating
Can you eat healthy skin like a bear eats winter fat? Admittedly, it's not quite that simple. How different foods affect the condition of the skin is very complex. That's why we're going to focus on one thing here, and that 's fatty acids . We have often highlighted the importance of lipids in external skin care. They form part of the protective barrier, transport fat-soluble vitamins and prevent the skin from drying out.
But the fats that you consume through food also play a role. With a conscious diet, you can improve skin moisture and regeneration, among other things . The magic word here is omega-3 fatty acids. So let's see:
what they contain of value.
How these ingredients affect the skin.
How to get enough of it on a vegan diet.
☝️ More about lipids : You can get an overview of which cosmetic vegetable oil serves which skin needs under Which oil is good for dry skin? And which oil for impure skin? In the “ Our ingredients” section , we also present the oils in our recipes in more detail.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids . What does that mean specifically? Whole books can be written about fats in the diet. So we have to simplify a lot here.
Saturated fatty acids only serve the body as a source of energy. And they have a reputation for raising cholesterol levels. Not so good.
Monounsaturated fatty acids also provide energy, but leave cholesterol alone. Much better.
Your body needs polyunsaturated fatty acids as building material for cells and for the immune system. They are essential. Means: They are vital, but the body cannot produce them itself. Here, nutrition is the be-all and end-all!
The polyunsaturated fatty acids in turn are divided into omega-3 and omega-6. (Omega-9 also exists, but we can ignore it here.) They differ in their structure. That doesn't sound wild, but it has enormous implications for their function.
Omegas regulate inflammatory processes 🔥
Due to the small but subtle difference in structure, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have completely different jobs. Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory , while omega-6 promotes inflammation 1,2 . Both are necessary, albeit in the right proportions. If omega-6 sparks fires everywhere and no one puts them out, you won't be doing so well in the long run. This also applies to the skin.
Inflammation plays a role in many unpleasant skin conditions . These include neurodermatitis, psoriasis and acne. Redness and an irritated skin feeling then eat away at your well-being. However, you can counteract this with a conscious diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids and their effects on the skin
Omega-3 fatty acids keep your skin young, protect it and help repair it. This is due to their components alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. What are these tongue twisters capable of?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
DHA is a structural component of the skin and is found in cell membranes. They regulate what is allowed in and what is disposed of. An adequate supply is therefore necessary to regulate the moisture balance . DHA also promotes regeneration. This prevents dryness, feelings of tightness and wrinkles.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
The eicosanoids prevent premature skin aging and benefit your skin in several ways.
- They control oil production and ensure that the skin retains moisture better.
- They prevent hyper-keratinization of the hair follicles, i.e. the skin becomes calloused and the pores clog. This manifests itself as pimples or small, red bumps that often appear on the upper arms.
- They control inflammatory processes . Whether that works out in your skin's favor depends on the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, as we've seen.
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)
This fatty acid is initially simply an energy supplier. But the body can do more with ALA. It uses enzymes to convert them into EPA and DHA . This is important because both are only found in animal-based omega-3 suppliers. And in algae, but when are we going to eat them? As a vegan, you prevent deficiencies in these two rare fatty acids by consuming enough ALA.
It's all in the mix
In the western diet, omega-3 fatty acids are in short supply. Unhealthy fats predominate in many dishes, baked goods and so on. And they also lose out when it comes to polyunsaturated fats. On average, we consume ten times as much omega-6 as omega-3 here.
Now it is the same enzymes that process omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. That makes them competitors. In order for omega-3 acids to be converted as effectively as possible, they must not have too much competition. Studies show that the conversion rate is up to 50% lower when we consume too much omega-6. An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 to 6:1 3.4 is considered favorable .
There is something special about vegans
Japanese cuisine is exemplary in keeping to the optimum ratio. And no wonder, there is a lot of fish on the menu here. It is one of the absolute top suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids. He also brings ready-made EPA and DHA with him.
However, fish is not an option for a vegan diet . Nuts, seeds and vegetable oils are among the top suppliers here. However, they only contain AHA. So your body has to produce EPA and DHA from it first. So two things are particularly important here:
The appropriate amount of omega-3.
A favorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
💡 Small mnemonic, which of the omegas you have to push especially: All good things come in 3 . Although you take in less omega-3 overall, it is also much harder to get than omega-6.
The best vegan omega-3 suppliers
So how do you get enough good fats without sitting at the table with a calculator? Incorporate sufficient omega-3 into your meals. It's almost impossible to take in too much of it.
The Top 3
Linseed oil : With around 57% omega-3 and only 16% omega-6, it's a class of its own!
Walnut oil : around 17% omega-3
Hemp oil : around 13% omega-3
These oils are ideal for salads or for refining dishes. Linseed oil is a bit a matter of taste, but it can be combined well. A dash of walnut or hemp oil gives the whole thing a wonderfully nutty aroma. There are also vegan linseed oils with added DHA from the alga schizochytrium sp. My favorite at the moment is the very mild Flaxseed Oil with DHA from Bruno Zimmer. But be careful: please only use in the cold kitchen . Rapeseed oil is ideal for frying . It is heat resistant and contains 9% omega-3.
🌻 Better not: sunflower oil! Here the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is more than unfavorable at 20:1!
Linseed, hemp, chia and flax seeds can be sprinkled over muesli or used for baking. And not just for bread. There are delicious cake recipes with chia.
Walnuts, like the oil derived from them, are excellent omega-3 suppliers. If you like to snack healthily, you should reach for the nutcracker.
Overall, they have a very balanced spectrum of nutrients. Omega-3 is also part of it. In most vegan kitchens, tofu and soy milk have a permanent place anyway. Now you have one more reason to enjoy them.
Fat is probably the last thing on your mind when it comes to greens. But even here there are some valuable omega-3 sources. Strong green vegetables such as kale, spinach, purslane, Brussels sprouts, green beans and avocado are among the front-runners. A dash of linseed oil and you're on the right track.
🥄 Tip : If you want to get your dose of omega-3 first thing in the morning, simply mix two tablespoons of linseed oil into your muesli or smoothie!
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Beautiful skin doesn't just come from the oils that we apply externally. What we eat also plays an important role. The skin gets most of its nutrients from within. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids provides optimal support for your skin.
It is better protected from drying out.
It regenerates more effectively and ages less quickly.
Inflammatory skin conditions can be alleviated.
If you eat vegan, make sure you have a balanced ratio of omega fatty acids! This promotes the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The latter are not found in plant-based omega-3 suppliers.
👉 Experts recommend consuming omega-3 and -6 in a ratio of 1:4 to 1:6 .