Scientists recently discovered a fat molecule that they called “palmitoleic acid”, a type of Omega-7 fatty acid. The substance appears to have special anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-7 occurs in certain fish oils and nuts. You may have heard of Omega-3 fatty acids, which come mostly from cold water fatty fish. Omega-3s reduce inflammation and heart disease risk. Omega-6 fatty acids occur in primarily in nuts and seeds, vegetable oil and grains. Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. Omega-7s are monounsaturated fats, similar to olive oil. How are these types of fats different? What makes palmitoleic acid so important for preventing Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome? Should you get them through food or supplements? How much should you take?
How Omega-7 Fatty Acids Work
Polyunsaturated fats directly fight free radicals by becoming incorporated into anti-inflammatory molecules. Taking fish oil high in Omega-3 fatty acids helps balance cholesterol, normalize blood pressure, and reduce harmful clotting. It also fights plaque in the arteries and reduces inflammation.
Omega-7s are monounsaturated fat. Well-known for balancing cholesterol levels, monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts, for example. Monounsaturated fats are an excellent substitute for saturated fats such as lard.
Palmitoleic acid has a completely different mechanism from the action of Omega-3s. This type of Omega-7 facilitates molecular signaling between muscle tissue and fat tissue. Therefore, Omega-7s are a lipokine. Lipokines help body tissues utilize and store energy. Their action is similar to cholesterol-lowering and blood-sugar-lowering drugs such as Lipitor, Lopid, and Actos.
Metabolic Syndrome and Palmitoleic Acid Omega-7s
Heart disease and Type 2 diabetes are often preceded by metabolic syndrome. The person develops a “spare tire” — deposits of fat in their middle section. Bloodwork shows insulin resistance, poor cholesterol numbers, and increased blood sugar. Blood pressure may be elevated. Chronic inflammation is usually present, creating a feedback loop that perpetuates the condition.
Research on palmitoleic acid shows promise for reversing metabolic syndrome. Studies found that it lowers blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Less fat accumulates, reducing obesity. The cholesterol panel starts to balance out. And inflammation goes down. These studies included both animal and laboratory (petri dish) tests. A pilot study found that taking 210 mg a day of palmitoleic acid decreased an inflammation marker by 73%.1
Food Sources Versus Supplements
Unfortunately, food sources of Omega-7 palmitoleic acid are also high in palmitic acids. Since palmitic acids raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, food sources are a wash.
At Natural Eye Care, we developed an Omega-7 supplement that is low in palmitic acid. Pollock, a type of codfish, is the main ingredient in Dr. Grossman’s Omega-7 Chronic Dry Eye and Anti-Inflammatory Formula. This purified formula aims to reduce metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammation.
Additionally, Omega-7 may be helpful for dry eye syndrome, sugar imbalance and chronic inflammatory conditions. Palmitoleic acid was shown to preserve tear secretion and suppresses inflammatory cytokines in the lacrimal gland.2
- Green JA. Effect of two levels of Provinal™ (purified Palmitoleic Acid; C16:1n7; Omega 7) on serum lipid and C-reactive protein (CRP) profiles in humans. Tersus Pharmaceuticals, LLC: 2012. ↩
- Nutrients. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 364. Published online 2017 Apr 5. doi: 10.3390/nu9040364. PMCID: PMC5409703. PMID: 28379171. Restoration of Tear Secretion in a Murine Dry Eye Model by Oral Administration of Palmitoleic Acid. By Shigeru Nakamura et. al. ↩