Oleic acid is a colourless and odourless omega-9 fatty acid that can be produced in the human body. Also known as oleic acid, Z-9 octadecenoic acid or cis-9 octadecenoic acid, it is found in many foods. High concentrations are found in olive oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, peanut oil or grape seed oil. Poultry and other meats are also good sources of oleic acid.
Unlike omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, omega-9 fats are not “essential fatty acids” because they can be synthesised from unsaturated fatty acids. Non-essential fatty acids are all fatty acids that can be produced in the body and therefore do not need to be taken in through food sources.
Taken in adequate amounts, oleic acids have been linked in some studies to cancer prevention and to lowering cholesterol. A study by the University of Edinburgh found that monounsaturated fatty acid leads to the reduction of cancer-causing proteins. Oleic acid may also play a role in intracellular signalling pathways involved in cancer cell development.
Oleic acid may also improve brain function. In older people on a Mediterranean diet, regular consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids was shown to offer protection against cognitive decline. According to research, oleic acid has positive effects on type 2 diabetes and insulin activity.
Some studies have found that olive oil can help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Olive oil contains about 80 percent oleic acid. Eating olive oil and other foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids increases oleic acid levels in membranes. The fatty acid changes the structure of the membrane and its physical properties and controls cell signalling, leading to a reduction in blood pressure.
Oleic acid on the skin can help replenish moisture, fight free radicals and soothe irritated areas. It is a heavier oil, but it penetrates the skin well. Oleic acid can also help other skincare ingredients be better absorbed to improve effectiveness. It is a good addition to anti-ageing serums, intensive moisturisers and regenerating creams.
Oleic acid is rich in antioxidants. These help fight off free radicals that can lead to premature skin ageing. Sun damage and environmental stressors can lead to wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone. With this in mind, eliminating free radicals helps to slow down the ageing process.
However, the most beneficial effects of oleic acid are due to its potential anti-inflammatory properties. However, too much fatty acid can lead to fat accumulation in the liver (fatty liver). To meet the daily requirement, 20 grams of oleic acid (1.5 tablespoons) is sufficient instead of other fatty acids. However, remember that other foods are often high in oleic acid, such as cheese, pizza, burgers, milk, eggs, desserts and oils in chips or salad dressing.