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A New Fat in Town: Omega-7

Sea Buckhorn

Fat Fights Metabolic Syndrome

If you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your diet, chances are you’ve already come across omega-3 fats. It’s a heart healthy fat that maintains normal growth and development and brain function. Since our bodies can’t produce omega-3s and we have to get it from our diet, it is called an essential fat.  Dietary sources, however, are limited to the fat of cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut. So some people may choose to take this fat as a supplement.

For good health, a balance between omega-3s and omega-6s (another essential fat) must be maintained. The stasis of omega fats is critical because omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, whereas omega-6s are proinflammatory. While the Mediterranean diet has a healthy ratio between these fats, the same can’t be said about the Western diet. Unfortunately, omega-6 fats are ubiquitous in our diet. Processed and refined foods promote an imbalance between these fats and trigger chronic inflammation and disease. In my new book, the Gene Therapy Plan, I explain how our diet affects our genes and health; in it you’ll learn what you can do to tip the scale to bring these fats toward a harmonious balance.

In the world of essential fats, omega-3s may take center stage. But a new player is drumming up some well-deserved attention—omega-7 fats. Omega-7 fats comprise fatty acids that are called palmitoleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat (MUFA), not a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) like omega-3 and -6. Compared to omega-3 fats, omega-7 fat exerts its health-promoting effect in a different way. Omega-3 fats become integrated with anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce active low-grade inflammation, which is a process linked to complex diseases.1,2 But omega-7 fats are lipokines, hormone-like substances, that regulates signals between distant tissues to optimize energy balance in the body.  In particular, palmitoleic acid controls the cell signals between muscle and fat tissues. This regulation helps to maintain energy use and storage by tissues in the body.

Diet plays a significant role in promoting inflammation, tissue damage, poor glucose control, and excess sugar storage—problems that are uniquely tied to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by five health issues:

  1. Poor sugar control
  2. Elevated cholesterol levels
  3. Hypertension
  4. Central obesity
  5. Chronic inflammation

Fortunately, omega-7 targets each of these five areas to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome. Omega-7 is a powerful anti-inflammatory molecule that reduces NF-kappaB, a major proinflammatory complex.3 The nutrient also improves glycemic control and cholesterol levels and controls weight. Omega-7 raises HDLs (good cholesterol) and lowers LDLs (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.

Omega-7 is an amazing nutrient. It also works similarly to drugs that treat diabetes and high cholesterol, without the harmful side effects. Foods like macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn contain omega-7. These foods, unfortunately, contain high levels of palmitic acid. While palmitoleic acid is healthy, palmitic acid is not. A highly viscous oil, palmitic acid forms plaques that clogs arteries, which negates the health benefits of omega-7 fats in these foods.  Take omega-7 as a high-grade supplement to guard against metabolic syndrome and promote wellness. But before you take any supplement, consult with a health care professional.

 

References:

1.         Serhan CN, Chiang N, Van Dyke TE. Resolving inflammation: dual anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution lipid mediators. Nature Reviews Immunology. 2008;8(5):349-361.

2.         Calder PC. Dietary modification of inflammation with lipids. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2002;61(03):345-358.

3.         Guo X, Li H, Xu H, et al. Palmitoleate induces hepatic steatosis but suppresses liver inflammatory response in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39286.