Omega-7 Fatty Acids - The Essential Non-Essential Fatty Acids

What is omega-7?

Most of us have heard of omega-3 essential fatty acids, and maybe omega-6 essential fatty acids. There are also omega-9 fatty acids, which are not "essential," that is, you don't have to get them in your diet so you won't die, and there is yet another group of useful but non-essential fatty acids known as the omega-7's. Here are seven things you need to know about omega-7's and your health.

  1. Omega-7 fatty acids are a healthy form of trans-fat.
  2. Trans-fat gets a bad rap because some kinds of trans-fat increase cellular inflammation and irritate the linings of arteries. Omega-7 fatty acids like vaccenic (literally "cow") fatty acid found in dairy products is a trans-fat that helps your body overcome inflammation, if you don't eat too much of other fatty foods.

  3. Omega-7 fatty acids are not found in non-fat foods.
  4. It may seem obvious, but you don't get your omega-7's in non-fat dairy products. Only dairy products made with whole milk or at least 2 per cent fat milk provide these fatty acids. Omega-7 fatty acids are in liquid milk, cheese, and yogurt.

  5. The omega-7 fatty acid in dairy products may actually lower cholesterol.
  6. Scientists at the University of Albert have found that feeding lab rats vaccenic acid for sixteen weeks lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. This is not, of course, the effect that you would expect by feeding yourself lots of cheese and butter.

  7. The best vegetarian source of omega-7 fatty acids is sea buckthorn.
  8. Sea buckthorn, despite its name, is not an ocean plant. The sea buckthorn is a plant that grows in high-salt conditions both along the ocean shoreline and in deserts, from western Europe to Mongolia. The berries are inedible unless they are "bletted," frozen to increase their sugar content, but they are a terrific source of vitamin C, containing 15 times as much vitamin C as oranges. Sea buckthorn berries are also a rich source of omega-7 fatty acids used to make both nutritional supplements and skin care products.

  9. Macadamia nuts are also rich in omega-7 fatty acids.
  10. Macadamia nuts are rich in palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fatty oil that provides the building blocks for the enzymes that control the burning of fat. Australian researchers have investigated palmitoleic acid as a treatment for obesity. Of course, you don't want just to eat lots of macadamia nuts to try to lose weight! Palmitoleic acid supplements are the appropriate weight loss tool.

  11. Too much omega-7 in the diet causes an unpleasant side effect.
  12. When omega-7 fatty acids accumulate in the oily sebum that lubricates the skin, they are broken down into the chemical 2-noneal, which causes the phenomenon known as "old people smell." Frequent washing and specially formulated cosmetics eliminate the smell.

  13. You can get the benefits of omega-7's without the risk of old people smell by taking omega-7 supplements.

Your body does not need omega-7's to function. Certain, specific omega-7's have desired health effects. Taking omega-7 supplements gives you the health benefits without causing accumulation of omega-7's in your skin.

And no matter what your age, omega-7 supplements can provide essential health benefits, especially in weight loss and cholesterol control. Omega-7's in supplement form can be the non-essential fatty acid that is essential to your health.

Selected References:
  • Power, G.W., Cake, M.H. & Newsholme E.A. (1997) The influence of diet on the activity of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 toward a range of acyl CoA esters. Lipids 32: 31-37.

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