Do You Need Omega-9’s?
We’ve all heard about Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s, but have you heard about Omega-9’s? These are fatty acids that come from unsaturated fats that are usually found in animal and vegetable fats. Also known as oleic acid or monounsaturated fats, they can be found in a variety of healthy oils, including olive oil, canola oil, mustard oil, and safflower oil. These fatty acids can also be found in nuts and nut oils. But, even though these are fatty acids, just like Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s, there is a big difference between them.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids come directly from food sources. Omega-9 fatty acids are actually produced by the body. So, unless your body isn’t producing enough, it probably isn’t necessary to take a supplement. While Omega-3’s and 6’s are known as essential fatty acids, Omega-9’s are not an essential part of The Paleo Diet.
Types of Omega-9 Fatty Acids
Just because you don’t need to supplement your diet with foods that contain Omega-9 fatty acids, it doesn’t mean that they are bad for you, or that you can get too much. There are different types of Omega-9’s, including:
Oleic Acid – This monounsaturated fat is found in many oils, including olive oil and macadamia oil. It can also be found in lard and poultry fat. It’s possible that this is the fat that gives olive oil its health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.
Erucic Acid – While many of the Omega-9’s are healthy, there is the chance that this one may not be. But, unlike Omega-3’s and 6’s, which are healthy and come from food sources that are paleo-friendly, erucic acid is found in mustard and canola oils, both of which aren’t on The Paleo Diet.
Nervonic Acid – We need this monounsaturated fat for good brain health. In addition to production by the body, nervonic acid can be found in many nuts, particularly macadamia nuts, seeds, and salmon.
Mead Acid – Another health benefit of Omega-9’s comes from mead acid. This is a polyunsaturated fat that is thought to possibly have anti-inflammatory properties, which our bodies need for healing.
Gondoic Acid – This is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is commonly found in plant oils and nuts. It is also found in grapeseedrape oil and fish oil and glyceride. It can be found in a variety of plant oils, including swede and false flax.
Benefits of Omega-9’s
We don’t know a lot about these fatty acids, except oleic acid, which is currently being researched, but there is no conclusive research as of yet. But, according to the research, there may be some health benefits from having more Omega-9’s in your diet, on top of what your body produces, and you can get them from paleo-friendly foods. One of the most important health benefits that are being researched is that Omega-9’s may help to strengthen the immune system, and help to reduce inflammation. Studies have been done to find the benefits of oleic acid for arthritis patients.
Other studies show that oleic acid may help to improve cardiovascular health, but there are no definitive conclusions yet. Many of the studies currently being done are about the connection between oleic acid and lowering cholesterol levels. Yet more studies done on animals and in test tubes are showing that there is a chance that Omega-9’s could help to protect against breast cancer, and that when eaten by pregnant women, it could help to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease in babies. Basically, for the time being, we just need to stay tuned for new and exciting information about oleic acid to come in the future.
It’s also thought that Omega-9’s can help to raise good cholesterol levels (HDL), while lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). It is even possible that they can help to control blood sugar levels. But, this doesn’t mean that you need to start taking Omega-9 supplements, unless of course your body isn’t producing enough on its own. The only supplement that you really need to take is an Omega-3 supplement.
Studies show that Omega-9 fatty acids could help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Some research states that because these fatty acids help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol that they can help to decrease plaque buildup in the arteries, a leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. Using canola oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, may help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
In a clinical trial published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, information shows that Omega-9 fatty acids in oleic acid can help to increase energy. They can also help to put you in a better mood, and decrease feelings of anger. These studies show that when we eat foods with these fatty acids, it can affect our levels of physical activities, as well as how much energy we use. This in turn can have an effect on our mood. Omega-9 fatty acids may even be good to help those who suffer from depression.
Although it is not on The Paleo Diet, mustard oil, which contains erucic acid, may benefit those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that it can strengthen long- chain fatty acids in the brain of those who suffer from ALD, which in turn can help to improve memory function. In a test done with mice, results showed that erucic acid may be helpful in the treatment of diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s.
Other health benefits of Omega-9’s include:
Asthma – The anti-inflammatory properties in Omega-9’s can help to play a role in the treatment of asthma. These properties can help to open up the airways and improve lung function.
Arthritis – Omega-9 fatty acids help to lower the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes in the body. These enzymes cause joint pain and can lead to arthritis.
Skin Conditions – Omega-9’s can help to improve skin quality by improving its elasticity. Also, foods that are rich in these fatty acids can protect skin from the harsh rays of the sun.
Allergies – Omega-9 fatty acids in the body can lower your risk of developing allergies. This is because they help the body to properly absorb nutrients.
Diabetes – Those who have diabetes can benefit from added Omega-9’s in their systems. They help to prevent resistance to insulin.
Muscular Disorders – Omega-9 helps to prevent the loss of viability in cells. This in turn helps to reduce the risk of a number of muscular disorders.
Anxiety and Stress – Added Omega-9 fatty acids in the diet can increase the production of chemicals in the brain that improve our moods and let us relax.
Who Can Benefit from Extra Omega-9?
Those who have certain health conditions, such as anorexia nervosa, diabetes, osteoporosis, PMS, acne, ADHD, eye diseases, eczema, allergies, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, ulcers, and many others, can benefit from taking supplements that contain Omega-9’s. Most people experience no side effects, but it is important to be careful about using anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications, as the combination of these drugs and too much Omega-9 can cause a bleeding risk.
Can You Be Omega-9 Deficient?
Even though the body normally produces Omega-9 fatty acids, there are times when a person can be deficient of these nutrients. Each of the three Omega’s work together in order to achieve their maximum potential. By doing so, they have the most positive effects on our health. When the body does not have enough Omega-9, it can lead to a number of health issues, including:
- Skin problems
- Hair loss
- Changes in behavior
- Dry glands
- Dry eyes
- Irregular heartbeat
- Stiff joints
- Sterility in males
- Growth issues
Sources of Omega-9 Fatty Acids
There are many health foods that are good sources of Omega-9 fatty acids, and many of them can be found on The Paleo Diet. These include olives, olive oil (virgin or extra-virgin), and avocados. Other paleo-friendly foods that contain Omega-9’s include:
- Sesame oil
- Macadamia nuts
- All animal meat
- King and sockeye salmon
- Chia seed oil
- Peanut oil
- Leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds
Your body produces Omega-9’s, and you get them from many of the foods you eat. So, in most cases there is no need to supplement your diet with these fatty acids. But, there are occasions when some people do have an Omega-9 deficiency. When this does happen, a supplement can help, which can be in the form of one of the foods that contain Omega-9’s. For instance, a tablespoon full of olive oil each day is all that is needed to produce enough oleic acid for adults. It is better to consume the oleic acid over the course of the day rather than all at once, which allows the body to better absorb it.
If you think that you need to have more Omega-9’s in your diet, there are plenty of foods that contain these nutrients that are fine to have when you are on The Paleo Diet. These are healthy sources of Omega-9’s, as well as other nutrients that our bodies need.