Health & Nutrition

Vegetable oils: are they all the same ?

Oils and fats - vegetable or not - have all different fatty acid compositions, which affect their nutritional properties.  Fatty acids are esential building blocks of cell membranes.  Oils and fats also contain other components sush as fat soluble vitamins, notably vitamin E.

 

Vegetable oils and their fatty acid composition

The amount of the fatty acids depends on the specific plant or animal origin.

The table below highlights the typical fatty acid compositions of 
PUFA = Polyunsaturated fatty acids SAFA = Saturated fatty acids
MUFA= Monounsaturated fatty acids TFA = trans fatty acids

 

 

Industry's action on improving the fatty acid profile ?

In the global context of health, diet and physical activity the European oils and fats sector strives to improve the fatty acid profile of the oils and fats formulations (reduction of TFA and SAFA and increase of MUFA and PUFA) and develop healthier alternatives for all food applications.

A number of initiatives have been undertaken over the years by FEDIOL members, among which:

  • Innovation in the manufacturing processes. The use of oils and fats with an optimal profile becomes increasingly possible by applying new processing techniques. These techniques are under continuous development to ensure improved health benefits and functionalities (higher stability, etc.).
  • Blending of vegetable table oils and fats has been used extensively by the vegetable oil industry to modify the fatty acid profile in order to improve health.
  • Seed selection: Oils can be modified during the cultivation of oilseeds leading to the current high oleic sunflower seed and high oleic rapeseed oils. These oils are very well appreciated for their high stability during frying, alone or in combination with palm olein.

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Nutrition factsheets