Combining high-oleic and omega-3

by Jeff Gelski
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Two popular topics in the food industry are high-oleic soybean oils entering the market and the continued search for oils with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Might the two trends converge in one product? Yes, but to create such a product, food formulators should be prepared to use oil blends.

Both Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto have developed soybeans that may be used to produce oil with oleic content of 75% or higher, which allows for higher stability, no trans fat and little saturated fat in a product. Omega-3 fatty acids, while they may provide heart health or brain health benefits, may oxidize quickly and reduce a product’s shelf life.

Minneapolis-based Cargill has combined the two trends in a Clear Valley brand of oil that contains 30% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid, and offers 12 months of shelf life. In the blend, canola oil provides the oleic acid and flaxseed oil provides the ALA.

Blending different oils is a quicker, more cost-efficient strategy than undertaking transgenic research to produce one oil that has both high levels of oleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, said Willie Loh, vice-president of marketing — Oils & Shortening for Cargill. The cost for developing such an oil would make it difficult to recover the costs and make a profit in the selling of the oil, he said.

Companies may want to blend high-oleic oils with marine oil, such as fish oil, that has two other kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), said Dilip Nakhasi, director of innovations, R.&D., at the Bunge Ingredient Inno-vations Center in Bradley, Ill. A blend might be 20% to 30% fish oil, he said.

Product developers may need to determine if the oil blend would be sustainable at a certain frying temperature or at a certain baking temperature, he said.

“In the finished product, will (omega-3 fatty acids) remain and deliver the same amount of nutrients?” he said.

The body converts ALA into the other two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is debatable.

Mr. Loh of Cargill said if a company is using ALA, it will have to use 10 times as much of it in a product when compared to EPA and DHA to qualify for a health claim approved by the Food and Drug Administration. For instance, a product may need 320 mg per serving of ALA to qualify for an “excellent source” claim, but it may need only 32 mg of EPA/DHA to qualify for an “excellent source” claim.

The F.D.A. in 2004 approved the qualified health claim that said, “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

Studies have examined the body’s conversion rate of ALA into EPA/DHA by focusing on the blood stream, said Dan Best, president of Best Vantage, Inc., Northbrook, Ill., and director of sales and technical services for Enreco, Inc., a flaxseed ingredient supplier based in Newton, Wis. Other animal studies, however, have shown some ALA may get converted in the liver, or before it enters the blood stream.

“Nobody knows what the conversion rate is, and the reason is they’ve been measuring it wrongly all these years,” he said.

Mr. Best said milled flaxseed may add ALA to a finished product and allow companies to avoid the cost of encapsulating flaxseed oil or fish oil. The ALA is encapsulated within the seed, he said. Stability is then important during milling.

“It can be a difficult ingredient to work with unless it is properly stabilized,” Mr. Best said.

Formulators should keep in mind the oxidation rates of omega-3 fatty acids, said Dave Booher, market manager of omega-9 oils for Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences, L.L.C. If the oxidation rate for stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid, is 1, then the relative oxidation rate would be 10 for oleic acid and 167 for linolenic acid, he said during the Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 12 conference March 29 in Rosemont, Ill.

Dow AgroSciences offers omega-9 sunflower and canola oils that are more than 70% omega-9 fatty acids, also known as oleic.


Study seeks to find heart effects of specific oils, oil blends

A current study is examining how consumption of oils influences endothelial function, inflammation, oxidation, body composition and plasma lipoprotein characterization. It involves canola oil, high-oleic canola oil, canola oil with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), flaxseed oil and safflower oil.
Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, is a leader of the study called the Canola Oil Multicentre Intervention Trial (COMIT). The University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the Canola Council of Canada, Winnipeg, are collaborators in the double-blind, randomized, cross-over controlled study.

Researchers may present the findings later this year, said Peter J. Jones, Ph.D., director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba, when he spoke March 29 at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 12 conference in Rosemont, Ill.


High-oleic oil examples

 Pioneer Hi-Bred, a business unit of DuPont and based in Des Moines, Iowa, offers Plenish high-oleic soybean oil that is more than 75% oleic. Enough supply of the oil may allow it to be marketed for use by the food industry in 2013.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2011 deregulated the biotech trait, MON 87705, in Vistive Gold soybeans from St. Louis-based Monsanto. The soybeans are used to produce soybean oil with increased oleic levels (75%).

 Dow AgroSciences, L.L.C., Indianapolis, offers omega-9 sunflower and canola oils that are more than 70% omega-9 fatty acids, also known as oleic.

 NuSun sunflower oil has higher oleic levels (55% to 75%) than other sunflower oils, according to the National Sunflower Association, Mandan, N.D.

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