Going deeper into fish oil: Looking at the other fatty acids

Most people know at least two fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, but there are other forms that, while not as prominent, greatly benefit our health. One such case is omega-7, a non-essential fatty acid found in certain fish and some plants, which is now getting attention, thanks to efforts to understand and develop the “science behind the ingredient.

The effort to further study this fatty acid is led by Dr. Tina Sampalis, who had previously developed krill oil as a dietary ingredient. It was during this time that she became familiar with the benefits of omega-7, and after further research, she found it to be the real thing.

According to Sampalis, the first people to study omega-7 were researchers from Harvard University. Based on their initial results, they found that it reduced triglycerides, which are linked to certain cardiovascular diseases. “But there were a couple of benefits that completely grabbed my interest, such as its effects on dry eyes. The results were good, maybe a little too good. I did my due diligence, and I talked directly to the principal researchers,” she told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

In the preliminary research on the effects of long-chain acids in fish and algal oils, her team focused on two molecules – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Long-chain fatty acids, to be specific, are those that have at least more than 14 carbon tails in their molecular composition. Depending on the structure, it can either be saturated long-chain fats like those in dairy and vegetable oil, monounsaturated long-chain fats such as olive and macadamia oil, and polyunsaturated long-chain fats like those in fish and algae. In particular, EPA and DHA are polyunsaturated long-chain fats that are vital for everything from fetal development and healthy aging. Based on the results from her previous studies on krill oil, she found other omega oils and fatty acids within the fish oil, including DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) – an omega-3 fatty acid, omega-7, and omega-9.

The team then focused on the benefits of omega-7, in particular, palmitoleic acid. Based on recent studies, researchers discovered that palmitoleic acid could reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic disorders. Sea buckthorn and macadamia nuts are rich sources of palmitoleic acid. However, a common issue with extracting omega-7 is that these sources also contain palmitic acid, an ingredient which can harden arterial lining and raise LDL cholesterol levels. (Related: Concerned about cancer, inflammation, memory loss or diabetes? ‘Holy Fruit of the Himalayas’ can help.)

Other benefits of omega-7

Aside from keeping diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at bay, omega-7 can hold its own against at least four Big Pharma drugs used to treat metabolic disturbances, a precursor of diabetes and other severe conditions. In particular, statins may increase blood sugar levels and worsen insulin resistance, conditions which were not seen in omega-7. Fibrates, on the other hand, increase HDL cholesterol levels at the expense of adding on fat mass and weight, whereas omega-7 improves HDL levels and reduces appetite to prevent obesity. Both glitazones and sulfonylureas treat metabolic syndrome, but a person is at an increased risk of cardiovascular death – a side effect that is not present when taking omega-7.

Studies have also shown that omega-7 can inhibit inflammation caused by metabolic syndrome, with trials showing that people who took 210 mg a day of omega-7 showed a 73 percent reduction in inflammation biomarker C-reactive protein.

Learn more about beneficial fatty acids by heading to Nutrients.news today.

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