Nutrition 101: What are Omega 9's?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/18/2008 7:00 AM   :  41 comments

In 1992, “Lorenzo’s Oil” was a heart warming hit at the box office starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, who portrayed sympathetic parents who searched for a treatment for their son Lorenzo, who suffered from ALD (adrenoleukodystrophy), a genetic disease that progressively destroys the myelin sheath of the brain in young boys. In 1996, Phil Collins recorded the song “Lorenzo” for his “Dance Into the Light” album using words written by Lorenzo’s mother Michaela out of her love and commitment to her little boy.

Lorenzo’s parents studied medical research and learned that the brain damage caused by the genetic disorder ALD was linked to a build up of dangerous long chained fatty acids in the blood. They learned that oil containing oleic acid (Omega 9's) was able to destroy the fatty acid build up and slow the progression of the disease, and in the late 80’s, Lorenzo’s Oil was discovered.

So what is oleic acid?

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and is considered one of the healthier sources of fat in the diet. Oleic acid makes up 55-80% of olive oil and 15-20% of grape seed oil and is commonly used in foods as a replacement for animal fat sources that are high in saturated fat. Diets richer in oleic acid have been shown to slow the development of heart disease and to promote the production of antioxidants. Oleic oil also seems to be a great moisturizer as well. Using olive oil on the skin has been a common practice in Italy and Greece for centuries, so if you are looking for a natural moisturizing option, look no further then your pantry.

Oleic acid or Omega 9 is not an essential fatty acid because the body can produce it provided the essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are included in the diet. But, if you want to make sure you are covering your Omega 9/oleic acid needs include several of these foods into your meal and snack planning,

• Olive Oil
• Olives
• Avocados
• Almonds
• Peanuts
• Pecans
• Pistachio nuts
• Cashews
• Hazelnuts
• Macadamia Nuts

And if you are looking for a good movie for a quiet night at home, check out “Lorenzo’s Oil” by Universal Pictures.

You can learn more about adrenoleukodystrophy, the Lorenzo's Oil disease:
The United Leukodystrophy Foundation
The Myelin Project

So what food or nutrient do you want to know more about? Let me know and I will see what fun info I can find.


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