Omega-3 and omega-6 are the essential fatty acids that get the most attention. We know that the standard American diet is high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 (which as health-conscious eaters we should strive to keep at a minimum) and low in omega-3, which we should be consuming a ton more of.
Now, there’s a monounsaturated fatty acid called omega-7, or palmitoleic acid, that’s taking center stage, at least in the field of health research. Studies indicate that supplementing with omega-7 in the form of palmitoleic acid can help regulate blood sugar and fat metabolism, lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and reduce inflammation, thereby moderating fat gain and insulin resistance.
Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute recently conducted the first randomized, controlled human trial on omega-7 supplementation. They wanted to see if 220 mg of omega-7 taken once daily with a meal for 30 days would improve lipid profiles and lower inflammation.
The study was made up of overweight and obese adults exhibiting low to moderate-grade inflammation with slightly atypical blood lipid profiles, two high-risk markers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Participants took either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 30 days and underwent blood testing before and at the end of the study.
At the start of the study, blood tests placed average blood levels of pro-inflammatory C-reactive protein at 4.3 mg/L, a high-risk indicator of cardiovascular disease. At the end of the study, participants taking omega-7 lowered levels of C-reactive protein by an average of 1.9 mg/L—that’s a 44% reduction that placed the new average at 2.1 mg/L, a normal risk status for cardiovascular disease or metabolic disease.
Test results also showed that triglycerides in the omega-7 group lowered by 15%, and LDL cholesterol lowered by 18%, while beneficial HDL cholesterol increased by 5%.
Such positive results suggest that omega-7 may help combat metabolic disorders associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Other human studies validate these findings. A 2010 study published in Diabetes Care showed that the more omega-7 a person had circulating in the bloodstream, the more insulin sensitivity they showed, regardless of how old they were, their gender, or how much body fat they carried.
Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and made up of 3,736 adults showed that higher omega-7 levels correlated with higher HDL cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol, a lower ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, and lower levels of C-reactive protein and insulin resistance. People with the highest concentration of omega-7 had a 62% lower risk for developing type II diabetes, and those with the second highest concentration had a 59% lower risk for diabetes.
Supplementing with Omega-7
You can increase consumption of omega-7 by eating macadamia nuts and fish. Sea buckthorn berries sourced from the Himalayan Mountains are also rich in omega-7.
Only supplement with omega-7 under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Omega-7 may interfere with blood pressure medications, anti-diabetic drugs, or other prescriptions. The side effects on pregnant and breastfeeding women have yet to be determined.