Different from the 3’s and 6’s, Omega-9 fats are not “essential” fatty acids. That means that you don’t need to get them in your diet, if your body needs them, it can make its own. With Omega-3s, you have to get them from food, but with Omega-9s, the body can produce.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that eating them is bad .
Omega-9 fatty acids include:
- Oleic acid: a monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, macadamia oil, poultry fat, and lard. It’s been studied as the fat behind the unique health benefits of olive oil, but this has never been conclusively proven.
- Mead acid: a polyunsaturated fat that may have some anti-inflammatory properties.
- Erucic acid: a monounsaturated fat that has raised some concern based on animal studies that this may be dangerous to humans. That’s not an issue on Paleo though, since it’s mainly found in canola oil and mustard oil – both industrial seed oils that aren’t Paleo .
- Nervonic acid: a monounsaturated fat important for healthy brain function. It’s found in salmon, nuts (especially macadamias), and seeds.
The only one of these with any significant research relevant to human health is oleic acid – as the staple fat of the “Mediterranean Diet.This review discusses the potential health benefits, most notably for strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammation. Specifically, oleic acid has been studied for inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
Oleic acid is also promising for improving cardiovascular health, although all this research is done with the single-minded goal of lowering cholesterol.
Omega-9s, there’s also a handful of other studies in animals and test tubes –for example, that found an Omega-9 rich oil to be protective against breast cancer in mice. One suggested ( in mice) that if mothers eat a diet high in Omega-9 fats, it may help protect the baby from fatty liver disease. But all of this is very experimental and it’s likely that it doesn’t work the same way in humans as in mice.
Omega-9s may benefit health by helping to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Omega-9 fatty acids are also found naturally in:
- Olive oil: 83 gramsHere are the amounts of omega-9s in 100 grams of the following foods:
- Cashew nut oil: 73 grams
- Almond oil: 70 grams
- Avocado oil: 60 grams
- Peanut oil: 47 grams
- Almonds: 30 grams
- Cashews: 24 grams
- Walnuts: 9 grams