It’s no secret that Omegas are good for your health. Everyone’s been talking about Omega 3, 6, and 9 in health circles for years, with Omega-3 taking centre stage. But did you know there’s another Omega that may be just as beneficial for your health as its more famous relatives? Omega-7 is becoming the focus of researchers to see what health benefits it may have. Read on to discover what Omega-7 is, the benefits it offers, as well as where you can find it.
What is Omega-7?
Omega-7 is what’s known as a non-essential fatty acid. This doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t need it. All it means is that your body can create it by itself. However, it’s unclear whether your body can make enough of this fatty acid by itself. Omega-7 is what’s known as a monounsaturated fat, which basically means it has a double-bond at the seventh bond in the fatty acid chain. (1)
There are eight Omega-7 fatty acids that we know about. You can find rumenic acid and vaccenic acid in dairy products; while you can find paullinic acid in some plants. The most popular is palmitoleic acid, which is found in sea buckthorn. (2)
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What are the benefits of Omega-7?
Omega-7 has many health benefits ranging from your skin to your eyes all the way down to the health of your cells. Omega-7 differs from the other Omega’s because it acts as a lipokine. A lipokine is a specific hormone that helps your body metabolize lipids—or fats. It does this by travelling to your liver and muscles where it helps regulate the accumulation of fat by making your cells more sensitive to insulin and blocking fat build-up on your liver. (3)
Here are some of the specific ways that this omega can improve your health.
- It’s good for your heart: Like most Omega’s, Omega-7 is great for the health of your heart. Studies have shown that it can keep already healthy cholesterol levels in the healthy range. In fact, people with a higher level of Omega-7 in their system had lower LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind) while having higher HDL cholesterol levels (the good kind). (4)
- It’s good for your skin: Omega-7 increases collagen production, which is vital to the health of your skin, hair, and nails. As we age, the collagen in our skin begins to break down and our skin loses its elasticity, causing wrinkles. Research shows that this new omega can help regenerate collagen, which prevents age-related skin issues. (5)
Related: 10 Best Foods for Hair Growth
- It’s good for your eyes: Omega-7 is great at reducing inflammation in the body. It can help suppress inflammatory cytokines (small proteins that affect the growth of cells) while also aiding in tear production. This means that an Omega-7 supplement might be a great idea if you suffer from dry eyes. (6)
- It’s good for your waistline: Omega-7 helps control the metabolism of fats, which will help control your weight. By encouraging your body to use fat for energy, it can help you get rid of excess body fat. Omega-7 can also prevent your fat cells from getting larger while inhibiting the number of fat cells your body produces by encouraging your body to use the fat instead of storing it. (7)
Where can you find Omega-7?
Our bodies produce Omega-7 from the nutrients that we eat. It’s difficult to source it through our food; however, there are a few foods that are rich in this healthy fatty acid.
Sea Buckthorn Oil
This is the main source of Omega-7 and out of all the food sources, sea buckthorn has the highest concentration of this omega. Sea buckthorn is a plant native to Russia, Mongolia, Canada, China, and Northern European countries such as Scandinavia and Finland. The first known use of sea buckthorn was in ancient Greece where it earned it’s Latin name Hippophae—i.e. shiny horse—when people fed it to horses to improve their coat and help them put on healthy weight.
Since ancient Greece, it’s been used in traditional medicine for everything, from reducing inflammation, treating coughs, reducing fever, shrinking tumors, and treating colds. I topical application applied to the skin has been used to treat everything from eczema to radiation burns.
The leaves, branches, and fruit of the sea buckthorn plant all have their uses. You can use the leaves dried or fresh to make a tea while you can juice the berries to make a nutritional drink high in protein and Vitamin C and E. Sea buckthorn oil, which is made from cold pressing the seeds or fruit of the plant, is high in Omega-7. You can get sea buckthorn oil as a supplement specifically for its high concentration of Omega-7.
These tasty nuts are high in Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-7. They’re one of the highest food sources of Omega-7 you’ll be able to find in grocery stores. While a little pricey, macadamia nuts provide many health benefits, so it’s worth adding a handful into your daily diet.
Avocado Oil and Avocados
It probably does not surprise you that this superfood has Omega-7. There isn’t as much of this omega in avocados or avocado oil as there is in sea buckthorn and macadamia nuts, but there is a little bit.
As with avocado oil, olive oil contains a small amount of this healthy omega. Since your body can make its own Omega-7 in some amounts, switching out your regular cooking oil for olive oil might give you just enough of a boost. Incorporating one or both of these oils into your diet is a good idea anyway, because they’re an excellent source of healthy fats.
Salmon and Mackerel
Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel have a bit of Omega-7 as well as plenty of Omega-3 and a bit of Omega-6. Scientists have shown that eating fatty fish can reduce cholesterol levels and improve the health of your heart and circulatory system. Eating fatty fish is also a great way to boost your mood!
Omega-7 is in the beginning stages of research; however, some sources such as sea buckthorn, have been used in ancient medicine for years to treat a range of health issues. If you’re looking to increase the amount of Omega-7 in your diet, speak to your nutritionist. They can help recommend a supplement that they trust.
Kaitlyn Bain is a professional health and wellness writer with a passion for helping her clients educate their readers on healthy lifestyles.