Best Natural Food Sources For Omega 7
When you hear the term omega fatty acids, you probably think of omega 3s and omega 6s and their plentiful health benefits. However, new research has been pointing to another fatty acid by the name of omega 7 and the importance of including the best food sources of omega 7 in the diet.
Also known as palmitoleic acid, omega 7 is a monounsaturated fat. It is not an essential fatty acid, meaning the body can manufacture it from other nutrients and not necessarily from foods. It is, however, not commonly found in many foods or in substantial quantities. A better alternative may be to consider using supplements or extracted oils to compensate intake.
Some of the best food sources of this fatty acid include the following:
Contrary to its name, sea buckthorn does not come from the sea but are seeds and berries of the sea buckthorn plant. The oil extracted from this plant has the highest content of omega 7 among any known natural source.
When compared to other sources for omega 7, sea buckthorn oil contains an impressive 30-35% content while others sources only have between 15 and 20%. There are two different types of oils, the first extracted from seeds and the second from the pulp.
Of the two, the oil from the pulp is a darker color and somewhat thicker than the seed oil. To get the most benefits from this important nutrient, you need to find an oil that has been extracted via the purification method for maximum potency.
You can use it in oil form by adding it into smoothies, salad dressings, sauces or any other food or beverage. It is also available in soft gel form for added convenience.
The same is also available in tea form but is less nutrient dense than in oil form.
Macadamia Nuts Or Oil
Macadamia nuts are one of the highest sources of palmitoleic acid after sea buckthorn. Although these nuts may be higher in fat and contain more calories, they also happen to be very nutrient dense.
Along with the important omega 7 content, macadamia nuts also yield protein, fiber and a host of important minerals in sufficient amounts.
Avocado is a well-known, heart-healthy, nutrient-dense food. It is also one of the top foods that contain monounsaturated fats including plamitoleic acid along with others such as oleic acid and linoleic acid.
It is easy to add avocado to the diet by including it in salads, sandwiches, dips or eating it as is. Another way to have more avocado is to use it as an oil.
Eggs are perhaps a better known source of omega 3s, but also contain plamitoleic acid in the yolk.
This is a naturally nutritious food with significant amounts of various vitamins and minerals. On average, eggs are relatively low in saturated fats, contain no carbs and are an exceptional source of dietary protein.
Omega 7 fatty acids are found in certain fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and herring. When used in oil form, you can get a fair amount of omega 7 in the diet.
However, as with oil, you have to be careful what type you use. In fact, many fish oil supplements may be missing this crucial fatty acid as it gets removed during the omega 3 concentration process and the part of the oil containing omega 7 gets discarded.
Dairy fat is also another viable source of omega 7. Dairy products made from whole milk or those with at least 2% fat provide these fatty acids. This fatty acid can be found in whole milk, cheese and yogurt, although the content is fairly low.
Benefits Of Omega 7
Like its other omega counterparts, omega 7 also offers a number of benefits including the following:
Helps Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels
This applies to both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) levels. While LDL is beneficial to the body in small amounts, larger quantities can be very harmful. LDL in large amounts can block blood vessels by forming plaque and leading to a number of chronic diseases like hypertension, coronary heart disease and various arterial diseases.
On the other hand, these risks can be lowered by increasing HDL levels in the body. HDL cleanses the arteries of LDL by breaking it down and transporting it to the liver from where it gets flushed out of the body.
Omega 7 is helpful in this respect as it not only balances LDL levels but also boosts HDL levels to counter any negative effects.
Promotes Healthy Glucose Metabolism
In a healthy individual, the body is naturally sensitive to insulin. But should you develop a resistance to insulin, then your body becomes vulnerable to glucose borne toxins putting you at a risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
In this case, omega 7 can help retain healthy levels of insulin sensitivity to metabolize glucose more efficiently. It can help double up glucose uptake by muscles improving their ability to burn sugar for energy and store it in quick release glycogen.
Helps Manage Body Weight
Omega 7 plays a part in increasing stomach and intestinal hormones producing a feeling of satiety. The result is a significant reduction in food intake.
At the same time this fatty acid also signals the body to stop storing fat by managing leptin levels. This hormone sends signals to the brain that the body’s energy thermostat is working properly. This makes you feel full for longer, promotes healthy bowel movements making you lose weight easier.
You can read more about the benefits of Omega 7 here.
Side Effects and Considerations
In nature palmitoleic acid is always found with something called palmitic acid which is a saturated fat. This means that foods containing omega 7 will have both these types of fats.
While the former is a monounsaturated fat and deemed healthy, the latter being a saturated fat is considered unhealthy. Unfortunately, too much palmitic acid can have various adverse effects, so consumption should be limited.
Palmitic acid consumption raises the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by increasing arterial stiffness, raising LDL levels and triggering platelet clumping.
If you consider supplements to maximize the benefits that omega 7 offers then consider a product that has undergone thorough purification to eliminate traces of palmitic acid. Such supplements will be labeled “purified omega 7” or “palmitic acid-free”.
Omega 7 is an important nutrient to include in the diet and can be sourced from some natural foods. However, the main consideration is the accompanying palmitic acid to the palmitoleic acid which can have adverse health effects. Instead, it may be a better recommendation to include supplementary forms of this fatty acid in gels, capsules or oil variations where the extraction process removes the palmitic acid rendering the most benefits of this nutrient.