Soybean, Canola Pace Specialty Oils

Advances in the two workhorses enable healthier food products.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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High levels of oleic acid significantly increase an oil’s stability when used in frying and food processing applications. Products requiring high heat during processing will benefit from this oil due to a superior resistance to flavor breakdown. Other applications include spray oil for crackers, coating oil for baked goods and as a blending component for formulating numerous types of margarines and shortenings.

"This meets food industry needs and consumer demand for a soy-based trans fat solution," says John Muenzenberger, Pioneer business manager for specialty oils. "Plenish high-oleic soybean oil will provide the high stability and performance of partially hydrogenated oil that food companies need without the trans fat and with lower saturated fats."

Canola coming on strong

Canola is derived from rapeseed, which has been cultivated in Canada for less than 70 years. In fact, the name was coined in 1978 from "Canadian oil, low acid." Cargill develops, produces and markets high-performance canola oil for food processors and the foodservice industry.  The source of these premium oils come from proprietary canola seeds which the company contracts with farm producers in Canada to grow supply for the crushing and refining process.

"Canola oil has very similar functionalities to other liquid vegetable oils in general uses, has lower saturate fat than other vegetable oils [about 7 percent saturates vs. 14 percent in soybean oil, for example], which tends to be perceived by people as 'healthy,’ " says Linsen Liu, technical applications manager for Cargill Oils. "Comparable in cost to other vegetable oils, canola oil tends to have a premium over soybean oil," says Liu. "The benefits of lower saturates may or may not be meaningful for saturated fat labeling; however, having canola oil as an ingredient may attract the demographic users who prefer canola oil either for its flavors or 'healthy’ perception."

Liu shared the news that Cargill is developing a new specialty canola oil. "It is high-oleic canola oil under our Clear Valley brand that contains 4.5 percent saturate, which provides higher stability and lower saturate than generic canola oil," he says. "High-oleic canola oil is generally used in frying, baking and food formulation because of its high stability," and he notes it can lower the saturated fat of food products that previously had difficulty achieving that trick.

Bunge also is a fan of canola. The company developed NutraClear HS, derived from specially bred canola, which has advantages in both functionality and nutrition plus zero grams of trans fat per serving.

"NutraClear HS cooking oil helps keep foods tasting fresher longer, has a good shelf life and high stability during frying," says Roger Daniels, Bunge’s director of R&D and new business development. "It has low levels of saturated fatty acids and less than 4 percent of linolenic acid, and contains heart-healthy omega-9 fatty acids." While not all consumers are familiar with omega-9s, Daniels notes that recognition is growing.

"It naturally contains 70 percent oleic acid, which makes it high in monounsaturated fatty acids. In fact, it approaches the levels of oleic acid found in olive oil," he adds, noting the oil can be declared "high-oleic canola oil" on the label.

And in these environmentally conscious times, "Principally coming out of our Canadian facilities, the oil is very close logistically, making it easily available for processors," he says.

Daniels says it is suitable in any formulation where a liquid oil system is needed. It can be blended with harder fats, works well in salad dressings, spray oils and is outstanding for deep fat frying.

There is another Bunge oil that shows great promise in the fight against high cholesterol and obesity. "Delta SL is a blend of high-oleic canola oil and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)," says Daniels. "We thinned it and added phytosterols, a cholesterol-lowering component derived from soybeans, which when consumed inhibits the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol.

"It stays in solution, has a lighter, cleaner flavor and lends itself to light frying, some baking and salad dressings," says Daniels. "It took 36 months to come to market because we wanted to be certain the science delivered on the intent – wellness and functionality.

"This is an oil tailored to meet specific nutritional needs. Our intent was to have a reduced-viscosity oil that would have a high concentration of phytosterols, whose nutritional benefits would be transferred to food. By reducing viscosity, we made it a tailored triglyceride that the body metabolizes differently than traditional fats. In fact, the oil inhibits the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol, and the MCTs allow the oil to be metabolized more quickly than other vegetable oils and as quickly as carbohydrates. That provides the opportunity for the body to utilize this energy rather than storing it in adipose tissues."

Delta SL has been clinically proven to help consumers reduce their low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and help them maintain a healthy weight. Daniels adds that Bunge is working with food, nutrition, weight management and sports nutrition companies to explore possibilities and opportunities.

Food companies and supplier companies are working diligently to improve the quality and health attributes of our foods. Combating obesity and diabetes, and improving heart health are major challenges.

But as Cargill’s Liu points out, there is "no single magic oil" that can combat all these health related issues. "Saturated fat is only one piece of the puzzle, but a healthy life style, including exercise and total calorie control is very important."

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