What is oleic acid

The olive orchard by van Gogh at the Kruller Muller museum, in the Netherlands.

What is oleic acid but a monounsaturated fat. It is found in particularly large amounts in olive oil; hence the similarity of their names. It has been associated with the better health experienced by those folk living in winter rainfall Mediterranean climates where they flourish.

I hope you recognise the olive orchard above. He painted many such scenes; this one is to be seen in the Kroller-Muller Museum in Holland; it is well worth a visit.

The particular interest of chiropractors in oleic acid is that it is the primary substance in the myelin sheath that enables conduction of impulses by nerves.

Demyelinating diseases like MS attack the fatty sheath that surrounds nerves, preventing conduction and causing paralysis among other signs.

You have probably heard of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; they are essential oils that we cannot live without. They are both polyunsaturated; that means they have more than one double bond.

Oleic acid on the other hand is an omega 9 fatty acid. It can be manufactured from ω3 and 6. It is monounsaturated.

It has only one double bond.

The numbers 3, 6 and 9 refer to the position of a double bond in the molecule.

Whilst the omega 6 fatty acids are "essential", we cannot live without them, they are in many instances pro inflammatory. Thus they should be consumed, but in moderation. Using large amounts of sunflower oil for example, will promote aching joints and muscles, polymyalgia and inflamed blood vessels.

Using no sunflower oil may be equally problematic if it causes a deficiency of these essential fatty acids; all things in moderation.

Thus large quantities of olive oil, and smaller amounts of sunflower for example is what is recommended.

What is oleic acid

Oleic acid structure for chiropractors

What is oleic acid but the main constituent of olive oil. Oddly it is not an "essential" fatty acid, but it is unquestionably the healthiest fat in our diets, omega-3 fats perhaps excepted.

It is also found in large amounts in avocados; together with the olive they make up the "fruit" sources of fats. Seeds and meat are the other sources of fat, but they are less healthy, but still required in small quantities.

It's also known as an omega-9 unsaturated fatty acid; count the number of carbon atoms from the left where the double bond is located, and you'll understand why.

This is probably as clear as mud.

In short, we should enjoy

  • small amounts of seed oils. They include the essential fatty acids; cold pressed if you can find them.
  • small amounts of meat oils are optional. They include much saturated fat.
  • large amounts of fruit oils.
  • large amounts of fish oil, especially for the omega-3.
  • palm and coconut oils are generally considered healthy but do contain saturated fat.
  • Canola, rapeseed oil, remains the most controversial, not because of the healthy amount of omega-3 it contains, but other toxic compounds. The jury isn't out on the subject with conflicting scientific evidence.

Large amounts of oils rich in oleic acid have been clearly shown to raise the healthy HDL fats whilst lowering the unhealthy LDLs that are associated with atherosclerosis.

Peripheral neuralgias are a common affliction in older folk; numbness and tingling in the feet and lower legs are the most common symptoms. It may feel that you have gloves or stockings on. It can also cause motor signs such as weakness in one or many muscles. Diabetes for example has a prediction for the quadriceps in the thigh by reducing the blood flow to the nerve supplying the muscle. 

Many of these peripheral neuralgias are poorly understood; some are autoimmune disease in which the body defence system attacks the myelin sheath of our own nerves.

It is hypothesized that trans fatty acids used in the myelin sheath may be part of the problem; normally speaking our bodies use only the cis isomer.

It can be a sign of lumbar spinal stenosis.

In short oleic acid is a healthy fat found abundantly in meat, seed, nut and fruit oils.

Monounsaturated oils like oleic acid in the diet have been associated with lower LDL cholesterol, and higher healthy HDL; they are associated with better health.

Generally it is found not as free oleic acid, but as the triglyceride of the fat.

The more refined the greater amount of free oleic acid; that's not desirable; extra virgin olive oil contains less than 1%.

However, too much fat in the diet is not healthy and is associated with many diseases; that would include the oleic acid in olive oil.

Olive oil only goes rancid very slowly, releasing trans forms; that's one of the reasons why it is so healthy. Having opened a bottle, do finish it within a month or so, however.

Chiropractic help

Chiropractic help concerns itself with issues such as those surrounding the fats in our diets, because patients are daily consulting us with nerve type symptoms; what is oleic acid is a question that faces every patient in pain.

Some of them are directly related to dietary issues, and are not pinched nerves at all; having some understanding of what is oleic acid may help some of your aching joint problems. It's certainly heart friendly in any case.

Olive garden nutrition

Olive garden nutrition sets out in a layman's terms the mystery of the different oils. What's the difference between mono and polyunsaturates? What are the dangers of going on an extremely low fat diet? What is oleic acid?

The virtues of olive garden nutrition in general, and the specifics of what is oleic acid is not rocket science; the information has been around for decades.

Of course, you don't have to understand how a car works to drive and enjoy it; if you have no desire to grapple with these issues, then just use more olive garden salad dressing and, if you're a baker, make this olive bread recipe.

Avocado fat

Avocado fat is a wonder. Weight watchers used to ban it completely, but have changed their minds since grasping the importance of what is oleic acid. In any case, most of us are obese not because of too much oil in our diet but due to refined carbohydrate. If you regularly eat white rice, refined bread and cookies, and drink colas you will be too large.

Try to enjoy at least two avocados per week in season. For the rest of the year you need olive oil to satisfy the what is oleic acid equation.

Olives and avocado fat is where oleic acid is to be found in abundance; they are both fruit rather than seed or nut oils.

Read more about it at avocado benefits.

Fat is vitally important in the diet and oddly not a primary cause of obesity; it's refined starches like crackers and chocolate cake that do that. It's a hugely complex subject and you can get a different slant from this hugely important flax seed nutrition information; really we should all grind them and add a tablespoon to our cereal every morning; fresh is the word.

› What is oleic acid?

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.