Reduction of trans fatty acids

Apart from the constraints on the specification of the fat, like those mentioned in Fat blends, more and more attention has been asked for the type of fatty acids. The different types of fatty acids are given in Analytical data. Especially the last 15 years much more studies have been made to understand better the relation between the type of fatty acids and the risk of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease).

It is scientifically accepted that

  • trans fatty acids increase the LDL and even lower the HDL: the risk for CHD is clearly higher with trans fatty acids than with saturated fatty acids
  • saturated fatty acids increase the LDL some indicative research shows different effects depending on the chain length, but this should be studied more extensively.
  • mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids are lowering the cholesterol/LDL
    Even the ratio linoleic/linolenic acid is more important than understood in the past.

For each application there are different constraints for the fat applied, like N-line, taste keepability or oxidation stability, but also healthy constraints like no trans (or less than 1% in the fat), low in saturated fatty acids and higher in mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids.

In order to fulfill all these contra dictionary constraints and to get some solids at application temperature there will be a minimum of saturated (+trans fatty acids) required.
So reduction of trans fatty acids will usually result either in higher levels of saturated fatty acids or in adaptation of the other constraints.

If the constraints can not be adapted then the fat blenders (refineries) have to use the oil modifications techniques on a smart way, at least taking into account that the sum of saturated +trans should be not higher than before the change, resulting always in a lower risk for CHD:

  • Interesterification of e.g. BO69 (fully hardened BO with trans<2) with BO/RP, POs with PK, BO69/POs with PK39 (fully hardened PK with trans lower <2) etc.
  • Combination of interesterification and then fractionation.

The newest healthy trend is to use no hardened components at all. Then only fractionation and interesterification can be used to make the required fat components.

In Europe and a lot of other countries the trans level in consumer margarines is zero (<1); there is only some trans present from the deodorization of liquid oils. The trans level in bakery and industrial margarines/fats has been reduced considerably too; mostly <5%.
For some special fats like CBR it is still difficult; steepness of the N-line is based on high levels of trans. But new CBRs are on the market with trans<15, but the N35 is higher than in high trans CBR.

Your fatsforfoods consultant can support you because of his global and long experience in reducing the trans content in margarines/fats (consumer and industrial application)

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Copyright 2002 Gabrie Lansbergen Fats for Foods Consultant

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