Aveno's Monthly OILS & FATS bulletin for October - Which oil or fat is the best? #2

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Which oil or fat is the best? (part 2) 

We had a month to chew on our cake and we now know that all fats and oils are composed of three classes of fatty acids: monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids. And that the fatty acid composition determines the suitability of an oil or fat for certain types of applications. 

Amongst others the fatty acids determine: 
  • The melting point of oils and fats
  • The oxidative and heat stability
  • Product flavor, texture, appearance, mouthfeel, shelf life
  • Nutritional value
So before choosing an oil one must look at the oil characteristics and compare: 


Of the most common vegetable and animal oils & fats (%)

Please note that this is a typical fatty acid composition which may vary under circumstances like soil conditions, weather or climate change, just like any other natural product (e.g. wine), can vary from one year to another. Legally the values should fall within the compositional range of the Codex Alimentarius. 

Animal fat composition is influenced by the diet of the animal: feeding unsaturated oils like soybean oil to a pig will produce “fluffy fat”; poultry fat is also very sensitive to diet changes. Nowadays coconut fatty acids (which inhibit the growth of gram positive bacteria) are being fed to chickens in order to keep the birds healthy and prevent the use of anti-biotics. Also pig diets benefit from this. Where in the past more animal fats were fed.

We highlighted the most prominent fatty acid in every oil. It is typical for land animal fats that the percentage of (unsaturated) oleic acid is the largest with (saturated) palmitic acid being second.

Fish oils contain large amounts of long chain unsaturated fatty acids with 20 or 22 carbon atoms like C22:6 Docosahexaenoic acid or in short DHA which is known to enhance intelligence. So if you seek an oil to become smart you should choose fish oil from halibut (or eat a lot of halibut and tuna fish).

Would you want to mimic “mother milk” for an infant food formula you require C16:1 or palmitoleic acid which is nearly not present in vegetable oils and fats but common in animal fats.

Linseed oil has the highest content of C18:3, alpha-linolenic acid, and is an excellent natural product to produce environmentally friendly paints and varnishes. When fed to animals their coat (fur) gets a nice healthy shine. But if your application requires a good oxidative stability you must avoid oils containing poly unsaturated fatty acids.

Linolenic acid with 3 double bonds is most sensitive to oxidation; linoleic acid with 2 double bonds is less reactive. For frying oils, in order to provide maximum oxidative stability, the poly unsaturated fatty acid content must be low. The dilemma is that oils lower in saturated fatty acids are generally more unstable, deteriorating faster in the frying process and thus producing unhealthy and unpleasant flavors. So we must look for the best possible balance between nutritional concerns and required oil stability to produce healthy and good tasting fried foods!

Aveno's Monthly OILS & FATS bulletins 

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Unless otherwise mentioned the crude oil values quoted in these documents are prices landed in EU without import duties, handling, storage, financing, refining, packing, transport or any other cost related to bring the product to market. They are used as market trend illustration. Substitution of oils is possible but different oils have different fatty acid profiles and are not all interchangeable for all applications. One can make biodiesel from all oils and fats but one cannot make mayonnaise from coconut oil. This document is exclusively for you and does not carry any right of publication or disclosure. This document or any of its contents may not be distributed, reproduced, or used for any other purpose without the prior written consent of AVENO. The information reflects prevailing market conditions and our present judgement, which may be subject to change. It is based on public information and opinions which come from sources believed to be reliable; however, AVENO doesn’t guarantee the correctness or completeness. This document does not constitute an offer, invitation, or recommendation and may not be understood, as an advice. This document is one of a series of publications undertaken by AVENO and aims at informing broadly a targeted audience about the edible oils & fats market. AVENO’s goal is to keep this information timely and accurate however AVENO accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the given information.

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