Omega 7 (n7) Fatty acids

From my experience very few people actually understand what n7 fatty acid (FAs) are beyond the fact that they are mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), where the site of unsaturation is 7 carbon (C) atoms from the end of the C chain (Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics 2014).

Palmitoleic acid, an n7 FA, is a product of palmitic acid metabolism in the body and is also found in food sources such as certain blue-green algae, macadamia nuts & and sea buckthorn berry or seed oil (Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics 2014).

As explained by Weisenberger (2014) palmitoleic acid is found in cis isomer form (e.g.  in macadamia nuts or produced endogenously in the body), and trans isomer form (naturally present in full fat dairy products and meat fat).

Further to animal studies suggesting that the cis form of this fatty acid may have beneficial effects on health, Mozaffarian et al (2010) investigated its health benefits and found an association with lower insulin resistance, atherogenic dyslipidemia, as well as lower incidence of diabetes in participants with higher levels of circulating trans palmitoleic acid. Although their findings were encouraging and in line with previously observed metabolic benefits of dairy consumption, researchers concluded that further clinical and   experimental investigations are required.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there are both positive and negative associations with n7 FAs intake; for example, a recent study by Hamazaki et al (2016) found that vaccenic acid another n7 FA (a specific trans fatty acid) naturally present in dairy products, was recently associated with an increased incidence of hip fracture.

References available on request


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