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

Welcome to the OILS & FATS bulletin for September

Did you ever ask yourself why there are so many different oils and fats on the market and which is the most suitable oil for your application? And what oils are healthy or unhealthy? We're here with a start to unravel the mystery.

Don't forget to check out our bi-weekly market updates!

The AVENO crew.

Which oil or fat is the best?

Often oil professionals are asked: what is the best oil? The true professional shall never directly promote the oil he is selling. He will first ask: ‘what for? what do you intend to do with the oil?’ Some, thinking of a multipurpose oil, will then rephrase: ‘what is the healthiest oil ?’ The true professional’s answer, then, is that there are no unhealthy oils or fats.

The Soyfoods Council will boast the health benefits of soy. The Olive Oil council will do the same for olive oil, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board advocates that palm oil is healthy. Every association whatsoever, for fish oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, you name it, will come up with studies showing how their oil can benefit your health. And it is mostly true as there are no unhealthy oils or fats. BUT a daily intake of half a liter of olive oil or half a kilo of coconut oil is not a healthy habit AND different oils have different qualities that make them better for certain uses.

In fact, what people want to know, is if the oil they buy is suitable for their application? But before answering that question, people need to understand what oils and fats are.

All fat molecules consist of a basic framework of glycerol to which up to three saturated and/or unsaturated fatty acids are attached. So, we may encounter mono glycerides, di-glycerides or tri-glycerides. Normal complete fat molecules are tri-glycerides:

Fatty acids can be defined as a chain of carbon atoms with a chain length of an even number of carbon atoms varying from 4 to 28. These atoms are linked by a single or by a “double bond”. There can be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 double bonds per chain.

When there are ZERO double bonds the oil is SATURATED. When there are one or more double bonds, the oil in UNSATURATED. We can have mono unsaturated or poly (more than one) unsaturated fatty acids.

Some examples:

  • Stearic Acid is expressed as C18:0 as it contains 18 C atoms and 0 double bonds = saturated.
  • Oleic Acid is expressed as C18:1 as it contains 18 C atoms and 1 double bond = mono unsaturated.
  • Linoleic Acid is expressed as C18:2 as it contains 18 C atoms and 2 double bonds = poly unsaturated.
  • Lauric Acid is expressed as C12:0 as it contains 12 C atoms and 0 double bonds = saturated
The degree of saturation and the chain length of the fatty acids will have an effect on the behavior of an oil in a given situation or application.

And now it is time for coffee and cake.

The ‘quatre-quart’, or in English the ‘pound cake’, is by far one of the best cakes for a break. Its simple basic recipe: flour, butter, eggs and sugar, in equal amounts, with a leavening agent and eventually a zest of lemon makes it very accessible for home baking. Some claim it originated in Brittany in the 1700s when there were no vegans and the availability of different oils and fats was limited. Therefore, the original and traditional recipe mentions butter.

But if I were poor and a vegan and if, instead of using expensive butter for this cake, I had a choice of using coconut oil with lots of saturated fatty acids or olive oil with 85% unsaturated fatty acids or linseed oil with a lot of poly unsaturated fatty acids (and omega 3!) which should I choose?

I‘d go for coconut oil with 47% saturated lauric acid + 18% saturated myristic acid + 9% saturated palmitic acid + 8% caprylic acid + 6% capric acid and only about 10% unsaturated oleic and linoleic acid together. Because if I use a liquid oil instead of a saturated fat the oil will leak out of the cake…. And it wouldn’t be much of a cake but a disgrace.

In our next monthly bulletin, we’ll look at suitable oils and fats for your salad, for cooking your steak, frying your fries, making your biodiesel, making your own mayo, making your own alkyd resins or blown oil etc.

Enjoy the beauty of the last waning days before the onslaught of Christmas holiday planning and New Year's resolution-making sets in.

Don't forget to check out our bi-weekly updates!

There is some complexity to the business we daily operate in. To help understand the business of being an edible oil and fat producer we've also launched a bi-weekly newsletter.

Every two weeks we will share an update about edible oils and fats. Below you can find all our bi-weekly updates!

Most recent posts

Staff pick