NIH study supports potential of Omega-7 for heart health and glucose metabolism

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / RomoloTavani
© Getty Images / RomoloTavani
New animal research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) from fish oil significantly reduced atherosclerosis plaque and other cardiovascular risk factors.

Writing in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research​, the NIH scientists report that supplementation of a standard murine diet with omega-7 oil led to a 45% reduction in atherosclerotic lesions and 30% reductions in circulating triglycerides, compared to the olive oil-supplemented and control diets.

“We have shown for the first time that aortic atherosclerosis plaques, as well as impaired lipid and glucose metabolism, were improved in […] mice fed [a] Western diet supplemented with palmitoleate compared to those fed Western diet or oleate‐rich olive oil‐supplemented diet,” ​wrote the researchers. “These positive findings have led us to initiate a clinical trial comparing oleic acid to palmitoleic acid supplementation on various cardiometabolic parameters.”

AlaskOmega

The study used AlaskOmega Omega-7 concentrates produced by Ohio-based Organic Technologies.

Steve Dillingham, VP, Sales and Marketing for Organic Technologies, told us that sales of omega-7 are “certainly growing, which is encouraging.

“However, since omega-7 is not nearly as well knows as omega-3 and nowhere near as studied, our main challenge is raising awareness of this intriguing monounsaturated fatty acid with product formulation and R&D folks at supplement companies, and supporting more research on omega-7 so that there is more scientific documentation to support its use,” ​said Dillingham.

The company manufactures AlaskOmega Omega-7 50% and 70% concentrates, and is currently conducting its own clinical study on AlaskOmega omega-7. 

Study details

The NIH investigators used LDL receptor knock out (LDLR‐KO) mice and randomly divided them into one of three groups. All groups consumed a high-fat “Western” style diet with omega-7 (AlaskOmega Omega7‐700), oleic acid-rich olive oil (omega-9), or no supplement for 12 weeks.

Results showed that mice in the omega-7 group had significantly lower triglyceride levels and atherosclerotic plaque areas compared to the other groups.

In addition, improvements in glucose metabolism were observed for animals in the omega-7 group, with decreases in HOMA-IR of over 50%. HOMA-IR is a measure of insulin resistance. Glucose levels and insulin levels were also decreased in the palmitoleic acid-consuming mice.

The researchers also recorded downregulation of genes associated with inflammation.

“The main finding of this study is that palmitoleate may have beneficial effects in reducing cardiometabolic risk factors and in reducing atherosclerosis,” ​they wrote.

What’s next?

Organic Technologies’ Dillingham added that the company plans to introduce a triglyceride (TG) version of its omega-7 concentrates later this year: The company currently only makes an ethyl ester (EE) version.

The data was also presented earlier this year at the 2019 National Lipid Association annual conference in Miami, FL.

Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201900120
“Dietary Palmitoleic Acid Attenuates Atherosclerosis Progression and Hyperlipidemia in Low‐Density Lipoprotein Receptor‐Deficient Mice”
Authors: Z‐H. Yang et al.

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