Scientists have recently uncovered a specific kind of omega-7 called palmitoleic acid. This newly discovered fat molecule is so important that Harvard Medical School has applied for a patent on it.
What’s so special about this particular omega-7?
It powerfully addresses many of the underlying factors involved in metabolic syndrome. This feat would require multiple prescription drugs to achieve—with potentially dangerous side effects. Omega-7 palmitoleic acid can safely do all this at a fraction of the cost.
Omega-7 can reduce risk of type II diabetes, prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque, increase beneficial HDL and lower an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein, which is associated with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
In these ways, omega-7 is able to powerfully—and affordably reduce risk of the negative consequences of metabolic syndrome—including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening disorders.
What Is Palmitoleic Acid? Palmitoleic acid is a member of the class called omega-7 fatty acids. Omega-7s include several different fatty acids. For the purposes of this article, when we refer to omega-7, we’re referring to palmitoleic acid.
Unlike the better known polyunsaturated omega-3s, omega-7s are monounsaturated fats. And while omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial largely because they become incorporated into anti-inflammatory molecules, omega-7s have an entirely different mechanism of action. Omega-7 fats function as signaling molecules that facilitate communication between fat and muscle tissue in your body.
This special signaling function qualifies omega-7 to be identified as a unique lipokine—a hormone-like molecule that links distant body tissues to assure optimal energy utilization and storage.
That’s what allows omega-7 to have broad-reaching effects on various factors of metabolic syndrome.
Ingestion of just a small amount of omega-7 has a profound effect on the body’s response to energy intake, fat storage, and utilization, all of which are imbalanced in metabolic syndrome. Omega-7 suppresses the production of new fat molecules, especially those fats that damage tissue and raise cardiovascular risk.
In fact, omega-7’s beneficial effects resemble those of many drugs (such as Lipitor®, Actos®, Lopid®, and others) commonly used by people with high cholesterol and/or high blood sugar, major elements of metabolic syndrome that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Omega-7 Fights The Factors Of Metabolic Syndrome As medically defined, metabolic syndrome, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease risk and type II diabetes, consists of:
- Elevated glucose and insulin resistance.
- Lipid disturbances (high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol).
- High blood pressure.
- Central obesity (“apple shape”).
- Chronic inflammation.
Palmitoleic Acid Improves Arterial HealthOmega-7’s ability to raise HDL and lower LDL—while also supporting endothelial function—make it extremely beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Studies show that omega-7 improves lipid balance by favorably regulating fat production within fat cells, while regulating fat burning. That means less fat deposition—and lower levels of fat and triglycerides in blood and liver tissue.
In a lab study done at the Cleveland Clinic, omega-7 supplementation increased beneficial HDL after just 8 to 12 weeks (something statin drugs are not very good at doing). In the same study, the reduction in the size of atherosclerotic plaque in the aorta was 47% lower in the group receiving omega-7 supplementation.
Omega-7 levels have also been shown to be powerful predictors of the all-important endothelial function, the control of blood flow and pressure by the inner lining, or endothelium, of blood vessels.
These beneficial effects on cholesterol were demonstrated by a study using macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn, two substances that are known for their high omega-7 content. Studies show that after just three weeks of eating macadamia nuts every day, healthy young women had reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, body weight, and body mass index (BMI). And in men with high cholesterol, 1 to 3 ounces per day of these fat-containing nuts produced reductions in atherosclerosis risk factors such as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.
These studies may have shown greater effects had the subjects used a purified omega-7 palmitoleic acid supplement instead of the high-fat macadamia nuts, which are also rich in dangerous palmitic acid.
In a study of patients with stubbornly high lipid levels, a purified omega-7 supplement (840 mg/day) produced modest lipid reductions. LDL fell by 7.6% (from 118 to 109 mg/dL) while non-HDL cholesterol* was reduced by 8.2% (from 147 to 135 mg/dL). Patients with the highest levels of baseline triglycerides saw their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop by as much as 30%.
* (Non-HDL cholesterol is gaining increasing importance as a risk marker for cardiovascular outcomes. It is calculated as total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol.)
What makes that study remarkable is that most participants were already taking statin or fibrate drugs, yet still had high lipid levels. This showed that adding omega-7 to these drugs produced additional benefits, lowering cholesterol and triglycerides where prescription drugs couldn’t.
In a subsequent controlled clinical trial, patients taking purified omega-7 palmitoleic acid at a lower dose (210 mg/day) had improvements in lipid levels after 30 days of supplementation: triglycerides dropped by 36.9 mg/dL (17%), LDL by 13.5 mg/dL (11%), and beneficial HDL rose by 4.5 mg/dL (10%).
Omega-7 Helps Manage Body WeightThe reason central or abdominal obesity (“apple shape”) is a factor in metabolic syndrome is because it has such strong associations with cardiovascular disease risk. This is due, in large part, to the increased inflammation produced by fat tissue.
Omega-7s help manage this factor of metabolic syndrome because they signal your body to stop storing fat.
Animals fed diets rich in omega-7 show significant increases in stomach and intestinal hormones that promote the feeling of fullness (satiety). At the same time, such diets produce decreases in hunger-promoting hormones. The combined effect is a significant reduction in food intake.
Several statin drugs, while lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, also produce increases in body and liver fat deposition. Omega-7s do just the opposite. Omega-7 reduces the production of fat in the liver.3 Increases in liver fat can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is considered a major manifestation of the metabolic syndrome—and which can eventually lead to liver failure and even cancer.
SummaryResearch has shown that omega-7 has beneficial effects on a majority of the pathological components of metabolic syndrome.
It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers LDL-cholesterol-triglycerides, and raises beneficial HDL.
It helps manage body weight by promoting fullness-inducing hormones and dissipating hunger-producing hormones.Perhaps most important of all, omega-7 acts in a unique fashion to stop the inflammation that forms the link between the metabolic syndrome and its life-shortening consequences.
By beneficially influencing these deadly pathological factors, omega-7 can dramatically improve cardiovascular and metabolic health.
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