Oleic acid
Oleic acid

Background

Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid. It can be made by the body. It is also found in foods. Highest levels are found in olive oil and other edible oils.

Oleic acid is most commonly used for preventing heart disease and reducing cholesterol. It is also used for preventing cancer and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.

Don't confuse oleic acid with diets and oils containing oleic acid, such as the Mediterranean diet, olive oil, and canola oil or sunflower oil made to have higher levels of oleic acid. See separate listings for these topics.
When taken by mouth: Oleic acid is LIKELY SAFE when used in food amounts. There isn't enough reliable information to know if oleic acid is safe when taken by mouth as a medicine.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if oleic acid is safe to use as a medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Heart disease. Using cooking oils that provide about 20 grams (1.5 tablespoons) of oleic acid in place of dietary fats with higher amounts of saturated fat might reduce the risk of heart disease. But research is limited.
  • High cholesterol. Using cooking oils rich in oleic acid might help lower cholesterol. These oils include olive oil, some sunflower oils, and canola oil.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Bladder cancer. People with higher blood levels of oleic acid seem to have a lower risk of bladder cancer. But the amount of oleic acid in the blood can be affected by more than just intake from foods. So, it's still unclear if increasing intake of oleic acid from food reduces bladder cancer risk. It's also unknown if oleic acid supplements can help prevent bladder cancer.
  • Breast cancer. Eating more foods that contain oleic acid doesn't seem to prevent breast cancer. It's unknown if oleic acid supplements can help prevent bladder cancer.
  • Diabetes. Following a low-fat diet that includes food with oleic acid doesn't seem to lower cholesterol in people with diabetes.
  • Diarrhea. Taking oleic acid might reduce the number of bowel movements in some people with diarrhea. But more research is needed.
  • High blood pressure. Eating oil high in oleic acid might not help to lower high blood pressure. But more research is needed.
  • Obesity. Some early research shows that using cooking oil containing oleic acid reduces fat around the abdomen by a small amount in people who are obese. It also seems to help to lower cholesterol in some people who are obese and at risk for heart disease. But using similar cooking oils without oleic acid also seem to have benefit. So, it's unclear if the oleic acid causes these improvements.
  • Pancreatic cancer. People who get more oleic acid from their diet may have a lower risk of pancreatic cancer. But not all research agrees.
  • Poor nutrient absorption that occurs when part of the small intestine is missing or removed (short bowel syndrome). Early research shows that taking oleic acid doesn't reduce diarrhea or help with nutrient absorption in people with short bowel syndrome.
  • Stroke. People with higher blood levels of oleic acid seem to have a lower risk of stroke. But the amount of oleic acid in the blood can be affected by more than just intake from foods. So, it's still unclear if increasing intake of oleic acid from food reduces stroke risk. It's also unknown if oleic acid supplements can help prevent bladder cancer.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). People who get more oleic acid from their diet might have a lower risk of ulcerative colitis. But not all research agrees.
  • Rapid gastric emptying (dumping syndrome).
  • Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD).
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of oleic acid for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For heart disease: Using cooking oils that provide 20 grams (1.5 tablespoons) of oleic acid per day in place of other saturated fats and oils has been used.
  • For high cholesterol: Cooking oils that contain high amounts of oleic acid in place of other saturated fats and oils has been used.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Oleic acid might lower blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking oleic acid with diabetes medications might make the blood sugar fall too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Oleic acid might lower blood sugar. Using it with herbs or supplements that also have this effect might lower blood sugar too much. Other herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar include banaba, bitter melon, cowhage, ginger, glucomannan, goat's rue, fenugreek, kudzu, willow bark, and others.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.

Action

Oleic acid is a type of fatty acid. Oils with oleic acid are used to replace saturated fats in the diet. Oleic acid might improve heart conditions by lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation.
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