Dow AgroSciences LLC

May 23, 2006
Well-bred seeds yield more healthful oils

Canola plant photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University.

Restaurants can get trans fats out of their kitchens by simply switching to new oils — oils that have zero trans fats and lower saturated fats, and perform equal to or better than existing frying oils, according to research from Dow AgroSciences LLC.

At the National Restaurant Assn. show in Chicago on May 23, Dow AgroSciences LLC presented a set of research studies that demonstrate why these new oils, produced from the company's specially bred Nexera canola and sunflower seeds, are exemplary alternatives to today's partially hydrogenated frying oils. Partially hydrogenated oils are high in trans fats, which have been linked to a significantly increased risk of heart disease. These new oils, which have a unique combination of high oleic and low linolenic fatty acid content, are defined as containing zero trans fats and lower saturated fats, making them a healthier choice for foodservice. The studies demonstrate that adults and teens equally preferred foods fried in these oils to traditionally fried foods cooked in partially hydrogenated oils. The research also shows these oils can provide a 50 percent longer fry life for foodservice applications.

"Our oils give restaurants, for the first time, a way to reduce saturates and get trans fats out of favorite fried foods without having to take them off the menu or compromise taste," said David Dzisiak, global business leader for Oils at Dow AgroSciences, during the National Restaurant Assn.'s annual conference.

"This new research confirms that these new oils are commercially viable alternatives based not only on their improved health profile, but also on performance, taste, and cost," Dzisiak said.

These new canola and sunflower oils are available in commercial quantities from major oil suppliers.

"Frying with this new oil has been very educational for us during this in-restaurant trial," said Billy Gorman, chef at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap in Chicago. "We've been impressed with the oil in terms of performance and, as far as taste goes, we can't tell the difference between this oil and what we traditionally use." Gorman tested the new oil in the restaurant the week prior to the NRA Conference.

Superior taste

A consumer product study of 170 adults and 179 teenagers conducted by Jeffrey Gross Marketing Research found that french fries prepared using the new Dow AgroSciences canola oil were equally preferred to fries prepared using today's commonly used frying oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

When compared to a new, trans fat-free soybean oil, however, both the adults and teenagers significantly preferred the taste of fries cooked in the new trans fat-free canola oil, by a margin of two to one.

"Our oils preserve the good, clean taste of foods when used in frying and gives fried foods a light, crisp texture," said Dzisiak. "Chefs who have worked with these oils say they don't compete with natural food flavors or menu design."

Superior performance

A study by the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Lethbridge in Canada found that these new oils have more than a 50 percent greater fry life when compared to other cooking oils, making them cost-effective for restaurants to switch.

The study, led by Roman Przybylski, PhD and professor of food science, compared the fry life and performance of 10 cooking oils used to prepare three different foods (french fries, chicken, and fish) in a restaurant-style rotation.

In the study, the new oils performed well in the kitchen. The study measured the presence of total polar material (TPM) formation to determine the oil discard point. The research team used 24 percent TPM, which is a recognized international analytical standard at which oil should be discarded.

The Dow AgroSciences canola and sunflower oils, which have high oxidative stability, never reached the 24 percent TPM mark, even after 88 hours of frying over the course of 11 days. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, low linolenic soybean oil, low linolenic canola oil, and liquid canola oil all passed the discard point at day six after 48 hours of frying.

"The superior fry life translates into a highly cost-effective option for the foodservice industry," said Dzisiak.

Superior nutrition

Research confirms that french fries, chicken fingers, and fish sticks prepared and fried in these new canola oils can achieve "zero trans fat" and "low saturated fat" per-serving claims in both the U.S. and Canada.

In nutritional tests conducted as part of the Lethbridge study, food prepared using the high stability canola and sunflower oil had the lowest combined level of trans fats and saturated fats of any oil tested. Nutrition analysis demonstrated that the foods fried in these canola and sunflower oils had 65 percent lower levels of combined trans fats and saturated fats than the same foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

Commercially available

Dzisiak said these oils represented a new foodservice category given their reduced levels of trans and saturated fats and performance profiles. A recent survey conducted by Dow AgroSciences found that 87 percent of restaurant owners and operators would definitely or probably consider changing frying oils if they knew it could decrease trans fats and saturated fats in fried foods without compromising taste or cost.

It is estimated that over five billion pounds of hydrogenated oils are used each year by the restaurant and foodservice industry.