Omega-9 are mono-unsaturated fats which can modulate blood sugar levels, favour weight loss and reduce bad cholesterol levels, preventing the onset of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Fats are the highest calorie-content nutrients: 1 g provides a whopping 9 kcal. I you want to stay in shape and healthy, you should limit your fat intake and aim for good quality ones. We usually associate “good quality” exclusively with omega-3 and omega-6, especially due to their anti-inflammatory activity. These are in fact essential fatty acids, meaning our body cannot synthesize them itself, but needs to introduce them via the diet or a pharmaceutical supplement.
Omega-9, on the other hand, are relatively snobbed, not because they are less important, but because mono-unsaturated fats are not essential, so there is no need to take supplements unless our body is severely deficient in omega-3 and omega-6. The presence of omega-9 in our diet is fundamental: it facilitates weight loss, prevents the onset of diabetes and lowers LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad” cholesterol) levels. Furthermore, ongoing laboratory tests are demonstrating an important role for omega-9 in the prevention of breast cancer and infantile hepatic steatosis. According to experts, in a healthy diet 20-35% of one’s daily calorie intake should come from fats, 15-20% of which from mono-unsaturated fats.
Where can we find omega-9? Fish (especially salmon), walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, avocado and its oil, almond butter, olives, olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soya seed oil and rapeseed oil are all reliable sources. You can also find omega-9 in canola oil and mustard oil. The former is obtained from GMO (genetically modified organisms), but the latter isn’t recommended for culinary use given its content in erucic acid, considered toxic, despite recent US studies have demonstrated erucic acid’s therapeutic properties in cognitive defect diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-9 are also present in some algae, from which one can obtain cooking oil without the need for chemical extraction processes or GMOs. Algae oil, just like olive oil, has a high smoking point, which makes it ideal for cooking, roasting and frying. How does the taste of algae oil compare to the Mediterranean yellow gold’s and its exquisite organoleptic properties? This superfood is neutral in flavour and odourless, which makes it a good condiment for any recipe, both savoury and sweet. Will it substitute the condiment oils which are currently being (ab)used in our kitchen? Its price still isn’t competitive enough, but its benefits health-wise are guaranteed.
For many years, fats have been ostracized because they were believed to be bad for your health. Doctors and nutritionists do recommend you limit your fat intake, especially saturated and trans ones, in favour of omega-3, 6 and 9. This awareness campaign in favour of the intake of good quality fats is increasingly necessary in recent years, given the outbreak of DIY diets where “good oils” have also been cut out from the menu, with the risk of suffering severe nutritional deficiencies with grave health repercussions.