Have you heard of omega-7 fatty acids? You most likely know about omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, but omega-7 is a relatively rare and powerful fatty acid that provides surprising health benefits.
In this post, we’ll delve into all things related to omega fatty acids—what they are and how they differ from each other.
We’ll then focus on the often overlooked nutrition powerhouse, omega-7 fatty acids. We’ll discuss the various health benefits it offers—from supporting heart health to aiding in insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, we will take a look at food sources rich in omega-7 fatty acids and learn how you can incorporate them into your diet.
So let’s dive in and learn about this amazing nutrient that can do wonders for your body!
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What Are Omega Fatty Acids?
You may be wondering, what are omega fatty acids anyway? These unsaturated fats are crucial for maintaining overall health.
There are four types: omega-3, omega-6, omega-7, and omega-9, each offering distinct health benefits. Let’s learn more about the different types of omega fatty acids!
How Omega Fats Differ and Why They Are All Important
Among the four types of omega fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 are essential, meaning they cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through the diet.
On the other hand, omega-7 and omega-9 are non-essential, meaning your body can produce them on its own.
In other words, essential fatty acids are necessary for normal body functioning but cannot be produced internally, while non-essential fatty acids can be created by the body as needed.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are abundant in fatty fish and plant-based sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. They are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to enhance heart health, making them vital for a well-balanced diet.
The body cannot produce omega-3s, underscoring the importance of obtaining them through natural sources or omega-3 supplements to support optimal health.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids play essential roles in the body, including supporting brain function, regulating hormone production, promoting healthy skin and hair, and assisting in cell growth and development.
While omega-6s are necessary for the body, consuming too much omega-6s relative to omega-3s can cause inflammation, and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.
Unfortunately, the typical Western diet is very often too high in omega-6s and lacking in omega-3 and omega-7 fatty acids.
Omega-9 Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fats, like omega-9 fatty acids, are vital for maintaining good health. They can be obtained from a range of foods, including avocado oil, nuts, and olive oil.
Omega-9s decrease inflammation. They also improve heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels and reducing insulin resistance commonly associated with type 2 diabetes.
Although not considered essential because the body can produce them, eating omega-9-rich foods supports overall well-being.
The Rare and Powerful Omega-7 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have gained significant recognition for their health benefits, but omega-7s still remain relatively unfamiliar. Omega-7 fatty acids include vaccinic acid, palmitoleic acid, and rumenic acid.
These unsaturated fats enhance cardiovascular health, promote healthy skin and hair, and assist in weight management.
Omega-7s achieve these effects by reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and boosting fat burning.
Health Benefits of Omega-7s
Have you thought about adding omega-7 fatty acids to your diet? These beneficial fats offer a variety of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, supporting heart health, and aiding in weight management. Omega-7s also play an important role in improved digestion and healthier skin, hair, and nails.
Did you know that incorporating omega-7 fatty acids into your diet can be a valuable strategy for supporting cardiovascular health?
Omega-7 fats increase your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) while reducing your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels.
Omega-7 fatty acids have shown potential benefits for individuals with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Maintaining good insulin sensitivity is vital for preventing diabetes and managing blood sugar levels effectively. Omega-7 fatty acids have been found to play a significant role in improving insulin sensitivity, making them an excellent choice for a healthy diet (4).
Inflammation and Swelling
Inflammation and swelling can be uncomfortable and may contribute to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Omega-7 fatty acids have shown promising results in reducing chronic inflammation, particularly in the digestive tract. Consuming foods abundant in omega-7s can help lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body (5, 6).
Satiety and Weight Management
Managing weight effectively requires increasing feelings of fullness and reducing appetite. Omega-7 fatty acids can play a role in achieving this.
Omega-7s can enhance the production of hormones that help you feel full, resulting in a lower calorie intake and gradual weight loss (7).
Adding omega-7 fatty acids to your diet can also support the metabolism of fats, encouraging the body to utilize fat for energy rather than storing it as excess weight.
These benefits are particularly valuable for individuals with diabetes or metabolic disorders, as omega-7s have been found to improve insulin sensitivity, prevent weight gain, and help regulate blood sugar levels as well.
Skin, Nail, and Hair Health
Omega-7 fatty acids are increasingly recognized as a potent nutrient for enhancing the health of your skin, nails, and hair. They play a crucial role in promoting healthy collagen production, which contributes to vibrant skin, strong nails, and shiny hair (8).
Omega-7s also support the natural moisture barrier of the scalp, reducing dryness and improving overall skin appearance.
Furthermore, studies indicate that omega-7s offer anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for individuals with skin conditions like eczema and helps with wound healing (9).
Dry Eye and Eye Health
Omega-7 fatty acids offer notable benefits for dry eye symptoms. By reducing dryness and inflammation, these fatty acids can help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in older adults (10, 11).
Studies indicate that omega-7s can enhance the integrity of the intestinal lining, leading to reduced inflammation and improved healing. Furthermore, it is useful in treating peptic ulcer disease (9).
Seabuckthorn seed oil has liver protective effects and can be used as a food supplement for liver disease (12).
Food Sources of Omega-7 Fatty Acids
Looking to enhance your overall health and well-being? Incorporating omega-7 fatty acids into your diet can be a straightforward and effective approach.
Sea Buckthorn Berries and Oil
Sea buckthorn oil, derived from the berries or seeds of the sea buckthorn plant, is an outstanding source of omega-7 fatty acids. This oil also contains valuable nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E.
Research indicates that consuming sea buckthorn oil can effectively reduce inflammation, enhance skin health, and support cardiovascular well-being. It’s also a popular supplement known for promoting eye health.
Sea buckthorn berry oil boasts the highest omega-7 content among natural sources, making it a valuable option. You can enjoy its benefits by taking it orally or applying it topically.
Macadamia Nuts and Oil
Macadamia nuts and oil are also excellent sources of omega-7 fatty acids. Moreover, macadamia nuts contain fiber, magnesium, and potassium, all of which contribute to heart health.
You can easily incorporate macadamia nuts into your diet as a snack or use macadamia oil for cooking to ensure an adequate intake of this essential nutrient in your meals.
Looking for a tasty and nutritious way to include omega-7 fatty acids in your diet? Avocado oil is an excellent choice!
In addition to omega-7s, avocado oil is abundant in monounsaturated fats, which are associated with enhanced heart health.
You can enjoy avocado oil by using it as a dressing for salads or as a cooking oil, substituting it for less healthy options like vegetable or canola oil.
Because avocado oil has a high smoke point, it is suitable for frying, sautéing, and grilling at high temperatures without producing harmful compounds.
Olive oil does contain a small amount of omega-7 fatty acids, specifically palmitoleic acid. However, the levels of omega-7s in olive oil are relatively low compared to other sources like sea buckthorn oil or macadamia nuts.
Incorporating Omega-7 Fatty Acids into Your Diet
The best way to get enough omega-7s is to include good food sources in your daily diet. Some of the best sources of omega-7 include:
Sea buckthorn juice is a popular option and can be found in health food stores. It can be consumed on its own or mixed with other juices for added flavor.
If you have access to fresh sea buckthorn berries, they can be eaten raw or used in recipes like jams, jellies, sauces, or baked goods.
Sea buckthorn oil is available in supplement form or as a dietary oil. It can be added to smoothies, salad dressings, or drizzled over food for a nutritional boost.
Macadamia Nuts and Macadamia Oil
These nuts can be enjoyed as a nutritious snack on their own or incorporated into recipes such as salads, trail mixes, baked goods, or as a crunchy topping for dishes like stir-fries or oatmeal.
Cooking with macadamia nut oil offers benefits such as its high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods without producing harmful compounds. The oil’s mild and nutty flavor adds a delightful taste to dishes.
Avocados and Avocado Oil
Slice avocados and enjoy them on their own, spread them on toast, or add them to salads, sandwiches, and wraps for a creamy and nutritious boost.
Avocados can also be mashed to make guacamole or used as a healthy substitute for butter or mayonnaise in recipes.
Additionally, they can be blended into smoothies or incorporated into desserts like puddings or chocolate mousse for a rich and creamy texture.
Use avocado oil as a dressing for salads, a marinade for meats and vegetables, or as a substitute for other cooking oils in recipes. It can also be drizzled over finished dishes to add a touch of richness and flavor.
If you are not able to consume enough omega-7-rich foods in your diet, you may consider an omega-7 supplement.
What is the Best Source of Omega-7?
Sea buckthorn oil is the best source of omega-7 fatty acids. It is derived from the small orange berries of the sea buckthorn plant and contains omega-7s, along with vitamins A, C, and E, flavonoids, and antioxidants.
The Health Benefits of Omega-7 Fatty Acids
Omega-7 fatty acids, the unsung heroes of the omega family, offer a wide range of health benefits. From supporting heart health and improving insulin sensitivity to reducing inflammation and promoting satiety, omega-7s play a crucial role in overall well-being.
Additionally, these healthy fats contribute to healthy skin, nails, and hair, support eye health, and help maintain gastrointestinal function.
To incorporate omega-7s into your diet, consider adding foods like sea buckthorn oil and macadamia nuts, or using supplements if needed.
Remember, these valuable fatty acids are an essential part of a balanced diet!
Pam is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s of Public Health and a Certificate in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Passionate about the science of health and nutrition, she loves to share her knowledge to help others live healthy, vibrant lives. When not working, Pam can be found hiking, traveling, and enjoying great-tasting, nutritious food.