You’ve probably heard a lot about the numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, including their ability to boost heart and brain health. Omega-6s and omega-9s have also been touted as “good” fats to include as part of a healthy diet.
But scientists have also been studying lesser-known fatty acids—omega-7s—which research has shown may help combat metabolic disorders that lead to chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Additionally, studies exploring the benefits of omega-7s on skin health have been promising.
The most studied omega-7 fatty acid is palmitoleic acid. While not found in many foods, palmitoleic acid is naturally present in macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn oil, taken from the berries and seeds of the sea buckthorn plant.
A study conducted at Cleveland Clinic published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that subjects who supplemented with 220.5 milligrams of palmitoleic acid for 30 days had a statistically significant reduction in triglycerides, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and C-reaction protein (CRP), which suggests inflammation. Additionally, the subjects had an increase in “good” or HDL cholesterol.
Studies have found that unsaturated fatty acids including the omega-7s have skin benefits, too. Palmitoleic acid is present in skin lipids, and stimulates the regeneration and repair process that is essential in wound healing.
The ability of omega-7s to replenish and hydrate the skin with the effect of making it appear more supple and smooth also makes omega-7s such as sea buckthorn oil an attractive anti-aging supplement.
An effective, recommended dose has not yet been established. For best results, take as directed on the supplement’s label, or speak to your health professional about what may work best for you.
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Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.