Fatty acids, the building blocks of fats and oils, play a crucial role in our health and nutrition. They are essential for several physiological functions, including maintaining the structure and function of cells, supporting the immune system, and contributing to brain health. A study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) found that a sufficient intake of certain types of fatty acids can help prevent chronic diseases and improve overall health.
Among these beneficial fatty acids, Omega-3 has gained significant attention due to its numerous health advantages, such as supporting heart health, reducing inflammation, and improving mental health. However, another lesser-known but equally important fatty acid is Omega-7. This guide will focus on Omega-7, highlighting its unique benefits and listing the top foods rich in this special type of fatty acid.
Omega-7 vs Omega-3: The Special Fatty Acid
Both Omega-3 and Omega-7 are types of fatty acids, but they each have different roles in our bodies and different sources in our diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their numerous health benefits. These fats are composed of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Foods high in them include walnuts, flaxseeds, and seafood. Studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in lowering heart disease risk, reducing inflammation, and promoting brain health.
Conversely, Omega-7—also referred to as palmitoleic acid—is a monounsaturated fat that is less prevalent in our diet. It’s found in certain types of fish, like anchovies and salmon, and in some plants, like sea buckthorn berries and macadamia nuts. While it’s not as well-known as Omega-3, Omega-7 has been gaining attention for its potential health benefits.
So, what makes Omega-7 special? For one, it plays a crucial role in metabolic health. Research has found that Omega-7 can help regulate blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial for people with or at risk for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, Omega-7 has been shown to reduce inflammation, promote healthier skin and hair, and may even help with weight management by suppressing appetite and preventing fat storage.
The Benefits of Omega-7 for Body and Wellness
Omega-7 fatty acids provide a spectrum of health benefits that contribute to overall wellness. Here are some additional points to consider:
Supports Metabolic Health
Omega-7 plays a crucial role in managing metabolic health. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity, which is especially beneficial for diabetics and those at risk. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that palmitoleic acid (Omega-7) could improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in adults.
Promotes Heart Health
Omega-7 fatty acids promote heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. They also help regulate blood pressure and prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Alleviates Vaginal Dryness
Omega-7 is known to help alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness, a common problem for many women, particularly around menopause. Omega-7 aids in improving the elasticity and hydration of mucous membranes, including those in the vaginal canal, thereby potentially reducing dryness and associated discomfort.
Omega-7 contains strong anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. By reducing inflammation, Omega-7 can help protect against these conditions.
Boosts Skin and Hair Health
Omega-7 contributes to skin and hair health. It helps hydrate and nourish the skin, improve its elasticity, and strengthen hair follicles. This can lead to a healthier complexion and stronger, shinier hair.
Aids Weight Management
Studies indicate that Omega-7 could be involved in the regulation of body weight. It can help suppress appetite, prevent fat storage, and increase fat burning, aiding in weight loss and maintenance.
Improves Digestive Health
Omega-7 fatty acids help maintain digestive health by protecting the lining of the digestive tract, preventing ulcers and gastritis, and aiding in the absorption of nutrients.
Enhances Immune Function
Omega-7 strengthens the immune system by reducing inflammation and promoting the production of white blood cells, which are essential for combating infections and diseases.
Supports Eye Health
Omega-7 can also contribute to eye health. It helps lubricate and protect the eyes, potentially reducing the risk of dry eye syndrome and other eye conditions.
Promotes Liver Health
Preliminary research suggests that Omega-7 may help protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by reducing liver fat accumulation and improving liver function.
The timeframe for Omega-7 to exhibit its effects can differ among individuals. According to various sources, some have experienced noticeable benefits as early as two weeks, while for others, it may take up to six weeks. Therefore, when you incorporate Omega-7 into your diet, you could potentially start observing its health benefits within a span of a few weeks. This could be a significant step towards enhancing your overall well-being.
Foods Rich in Omega-7 to Add to Your Diet
Now that you are aware of the numerous health advantages that Omega-7 fatty acids provide, it is time to talk about how to include them in your diet. Here’s a list of foods that are rich in Omega-7:
- Macadamia Nuts: These are one of the richest sources of Omega-7. Not only are they tasty, but they are also a great source of protein and fiber.
- Sea Buckthorn Berries: This plant is one of the few vegetarian sources of Omega-7. The berries and their oil are used in supplements and skincare products.
- Avocado: While not as high in Omega-7 as some other sources, avocados do contain this beneficial fatty acid, along with a host of other nutrients.
- Cheese: Full-fat dairy products, including cheese, contain small amounts of Omega-7.Choose organic or grass-fed varieties whenever possible..
- Olives and Olive Oil: Omega-7 is one of the monounsaturated fats found in olives and their oil. To increase your intake, use olive oil for salad dressing or in your cooking.
- Grass-fed Meat: Animals that are grass-fed often have higher levels of beneficial fatty acids, including Omega-7. This includes beef, lamb, and bison.
- Eggs: Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain small amounts of Omega-7.They are also a great way to get protein and other important nutrients.
- Almonds: While not as rich in Omega-7 as macadamia nuts, almonds do contain this fatty acid. They’re also packed with fiber, protein, and other healthy fats.
- Tuna: Tuna is another fish that contains Omega-7. It’s also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
- Wild Salmon: One of the best sources of Omega-7 is wild salmon. It’s also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein.
- Anchovies and Sardines: These little, fatty fish are great providers of Omega-7. They’re also high in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Considerations When Adding Omega-7 to Your Diet
Adding Omega-7 to your diet can offer a range of health benefits. However, prior to making any major dietary adjustments, it is important to take a few things into account.
A balanced diet should include omega-7, not as a substitute for other necessary nutrients. The aim should be to incorporate Omega-7 rich foods without compromising on the intake of other vital nutrients.
Quality of Source
The quality of Omega-7 sources matters. Choose wild-caught fish over farmed varieties, and opt for organic or grass-fed meat and dairy products where possible. For plant sources like nuts and oils, go for unrefined versions.
Moderation is Key
While Omega-7 has several benefits, consuming it in excess can lead to issues like caloric overload, which may lead to weight gain. It’s important to consume these fatty acids in moderation.
Individual Health Conditions
It may be necessary for those with specific medical conditions to use caution when consuming Omega-7. For example, those with seafood allergies should avoid fish sources, and people with high cholesterol may need to watch their intake of full-fat dairy and meat.
Consult a Healthcare Provider
It is crucial to speak with a healthcare professional if you are thinking about taking Omega-7 supplements. They can offer advice based on the specific requirements and conditions relating to your health.
The Diverse Benefits of Omega-7 for Different Health Concerns
As we conclude our discussion on the health benefits of Omega-7 rich foods, it’s evident that this nutrient offers a wide array of advantages to various groups of individuals.
Those grappling with cardiovascular problems can potentially improve their heart health, thanks to Omega-7’s ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and boost HDL (good cholesterol). Similarly, individuals with metabolic disorders such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome might experience improved blood sugar regulation and increased insulin sensitivity due to Omega-7.
Moreover, those facing skin and hair health issues could benefit from Omega-7’s potential to enhance skin elasticity and fortify hair follicles. The strong anti-inflammatory qualities of Omega-7 may provide comfort to people with inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or arthritis. Finally, for those embarking on a weight loss journey, the appetite-suppressing and fat-burning abilities of Omega-7 could prove to be an invaluable aid.