Avocado toast with flaxseed toping which is a great source for omega-7 fatty acids

What are the Benefits of Omega-7?

Many of us know that omega-3 fatty acids are terrific for cardiovascular health, but there’s a “new” omega in town that’s been surging in popularity: omega-7 fatty acids.

Studies show that a type of omega-7 called palmitoleic acid offers a wide range of health benefits, ranging from heart to skin health support to maintaining already-healthy blood sugar levels, encouraging a healthy inflammatory response and more!

So how can you make sure you’re getting enough of this healthy fat, and should you take an omega-7 supplement? Let’s dive in!

What is omega-7?

Salmon, nuts, and avocados that all contain omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acid

Like omega-3, omega-7 is a type of fatty acid. These subunits or “building blocks” of the fat in our bodies and the foods we eat help us efficiently absorb nutrients like vitamins from our diet, help maintain our metabolism, and keep us energized. Supplementing with omega-7 fatty acids is an excellent way to complement the heart-friendly benefits of fatty acids, like omega-3s EPA and DHA.

Palmitoleic acid is the most abundant type of omega-7 fatty acids; it’s present in tissues throughout the body, particularly the liver. Emerging research reveals this monounsaturated fatty acid offers many health-promoting benefits.

In fact, omega-7 caught researchers’ attention when it showed its ability to act as a hormone in the body and help support healthy metabolism, meaning that it’s a lipokine. This means omega-7 can detach from fatty tissue and have a positive metabolic effect on organs, benefiting the skin, heart and mucous membranes.

Above all else, it gets top marks for its ability to inhibit inflammation to support whole-body health.

What does omega-7 do for you?

Man taking break from running to drink water using omega-7 to maintain healthy weight

There are five specific ways omega-7 can benefit your health:

5 omega-7 benefits

1. Healthy from head-to-toe

Research links healthy serum levels of omega-7 with supporting healthy C-reactive protein levels and promoting a healthy inflammatory response. Omega-7 helps support digestion, liver health and overall health at a cellular level.

2. Heart-healthy fatty acid

Clinical research shows omega-7 supports a healthy heart by maintaining already-healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Studies also show that eating more omega-7-rich foods or supplementing with palmitoleic acid is associated with supporting already-healthy lipoprotein—HDL “the good cholesterol” and LDL “the bad cholesterol”—blood levels.

3. Boosts collagen production

Omega-7 promotes collagen production, an essential protein for healthy skin, hair and nails.

4. Healthy weight

In preclinical studies, omega-7 was shown to influence healthy fat metabolism and inhibit the size of fat cells and amount of overall fat. Studies also show omega-7 promotes healthy fat metabolism, prompting the body to use it for energy production. This healthy fat also encourages already-healthy blood sugar levels and promotes feelings of satiety—which are vital components of healthy weight management.

5. Eye comfort

In a preclinical study, subjects who took omega-7-rich sea buckthorn pulp oil orally encouraged healthy eye lubrication and tear production.

Omega-3 vs. Omega-7

Chemical structure of EPA, DHA, and ALA omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 and omega-7 are both fatty acids, but they aren’t quite the same. So, what’s the difference?

Both omega-3 and omega-7 are beneficial to the body, but in somewhat different ways. Omega-3 benefits the heart, brain and joints, and omega-7 is well-known for supporting a healthy response to inflammation.

Chemical structure of palmitoleic acid, a omega-7 fatty acid

Where do the numbers “3” and “7” come from? Fatty acids consist of a straight chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms attached by single or double (rarely triple) bonds. The number next to the fatty acid’s name, like omega-3 or omega-7, shows where the saturation occurs within the chain. Omega-3 fatty acids have double bonds three carbon atoms from the end of the chain. And, you guessed it! Omega-7s have a double bond seven carbon atoms from the end of the chain.

Another difference is that omega-3 fatty acids have three double bonds, making them polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Omega-7s only have one double bond, so they are monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).

Is omega-7 a fish oil?

The term “fish oil” is used interchangeably with omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, which are well-known for their brain and heart benefits. You can’t really use the words “fish oil” in place of omega-7, though. That’s because while you’ll find omega-7 fatty acids in some fish oils, they are not the same as the omega-3s.

However, omega-7 does complement omega-3 benefits. So, it’s a good idea to take them both together as part of your supplement plan.

What is the best source of omega-7?

Glass bottles of sea buckthorn berries and juice with balanced omega-7

Your body can make omega-7 fatty acids from other nutrients. That’s why it’s essential to have balanced and nutrient-rich meals. You’ll find omega-7s in fatty foods like:

  • Salmon

  • Anchovies

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Avocados

  • Sea buckthorn

If it’s not feasible for you to consume enough fish, or if macadamia nuts aren’t your thing, then speaking with your healthcare provider can help you find ways to complement your lifestyle choices and ensure you’re getting omega-7 benefits.

References

By: Jessica Monge, Health & Wellness Writer

Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension as a Copywriter.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD