If you are one of those people who have the habit of reading ingredient lists before buying anything, then you must have noticed the term ‘high oleic oil’ on the labels of many packaged foods.
While high oleic oils have been there for the longest of times, they have seen a recent spike in popularity in the food industry, particularly in the manufacturing of snack foods. This has left many people wondering what’s so special about high oleic oils that food manufacturers prefer them over the traditional ones.
What are High Oleic Oils?
The term ‘high oleic’ refers to the fat profile or fatty acid composition of oil.
Produced from specifically bred high oleic strains of seeds, high oleic oils are the ones that have high levels of oleic acid, as the name suggests.
Since oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid (the good fat), the higher its concentration is in oils, the healthier they are considered.
While some oils naturally have higher proportions of oleic acids, such as olive oil, most varieties of high oleic oils are created by using advanced scientific methods, such as genetic modification, advanced breeding, and biotechnology.
Why Do Food Manufacturers Use High Oleic Oils and Not Traditional Oils?
Flavor preservation and shelf-stability are the two major goals of snack food manufacturers and traditional oils cannot serve the purpose.
In the past, food companies used hydrogenated oils (trans fats) to make their products last long as well as to keep the flavors intact. But, the search for an alternative began when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started taking measures against the use of trans fats because of their harmful effects on health. This was when the food industry mainly discovered the properties of high oleic oils and started using them, in place of trans fats.
In the commercial food manufacturing industry, high oleic oils are mainly used for frying, in packaged baked items, non-dairy creamers, and for spray coating for crackers, cereals, and dried fruits.
However, some companies still use trans and saturated fats. So, whenever you are buying packaged food, make sure to read the ingredients list and opt for the products in which high oleic oils are used.
Are High Oleic Oils Healthy?
In addition to having high levels of monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid (the good fat), high oleic oils are also known to have very low levels of saturated fats and no trans fats – the bad fat.
The high amounts of monounsaturated fat present in these oils have been found to help lower the level of LDL cholesterol without decreasing the HDL cholesterol level. A decrease in the level of LDL cholesterol is known to reduce the risks of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
High oleic oils have also been found to help decrease triglycerides; high levels of triglycerides are linked with heart disease. When used in the right quantities, high oleic oils may also help to lower blood pressure and fat mass.
This is why high oleic oils are considered healthier fat options.
The Benefits of Using High Oleic Oils
There are a variety of other factors that make high oleic oils premium options for food manufacturers. Here are some of them:
·Healthier Fat Composition
As discussed above, high oleic oils contain high levels of monounsaturated fats which are known to offer a number of health benefits. However, the greatest advantage of using high oleic oils is that they have been found to healthy for your heart.
·High Heat Tolerance
The higher levels of monounsaturated fats make high oleic oils highly stable. This means, they have higher smoke points and can tolerate high temperatures. In short, high oleic oils do not oxidize or break down as quickly as the oils containing trans fats or polyunsaturated fatty acids.
·Increased Shelf Life of Products
The greatest benefit of high oleic oils, particularly relevant to snack food companies, is that they increase the shelf life of products. Since the oils themselves have longer shelf lives and do not oxidize quickly, they also make the products last longer for customers.
Oxidation of fats changes the flavor of the finished product as well as creates an unpleasant odor. But, being resistant to oxidation, high oleic acid ensures that there won’t be any change in flavors even when products are cooked on high heats, as in case of baking and frying, or stored on shelves for a long time.
·Longer Fry Life
High oleic oils also offer extended fry life. This means, they can hold up to frying much better and do not need to be changed as frequently as other types of oil. For example, a restaurant that needs to change the traditional oil once a day can use high oleic oil for 1.5 to 2 (or even 3) days, without having any effect on the quality of food. This means, high oleic varieties reduce the overall oil consumption, which then will help food companies to save money.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that using high oleic oil is a great way for food companies to improve their operational efficiency.
Health Benefits of High Oleic Oils
While researchers and healthcare experts have been making claims regarding the benefits of high oleic oils for heart, the FDA has only recently approved the claim regarding improved heart health.
In a report issued in November 2018, the Federal Drug Administration confirmed that it had found credible evidence in support of the claim that high oleic oils may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The federal organization also reported that since the available scientific evidence supports the health claims, it would allow the food manufacturers to print the following text on the packaging of products that include high oleic oils:
“Supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that daily consumption of about 1½ tablespoons (20 grams) of oils containing high levels of oleic acid, when replaced for fats and oils higher in saturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. To achieve this possible benefit, oleic acid-containing oils should not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of (x) oil provides (x) grams of oleic acid, which is (x) grams of monounsaturated fatty acid.”Research studies have also found many other health benefits of oleic acid. According to scientists, oleic acid can also help to:Lower LDL cholesterolReduce blood pressurePrevent type 2 diabetesFight against different types of infections by boosting immunityFight against certain types of cancers by initiating the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells Burn more fat by promoting satiety, which then will reduce cravings and overeating. Oleic acid may also help to prevent ulcerative colitis and cognitive decline. Who Should Use High Oleic Oils?High oleic oils are ideal for:The snack food manufacturing companies, as healthier alternatives to hydrogenated oils, to ensure longer shelf lives for their products.Those operating in the natural food manufacturing industry to attract a higher number of health-conscious customers.Food businesses that want to decrease their oil costs.Manufacturing of products that require heating the oil on high temperatures.People looking for healthier alternatives to conventional oils. Popular High Oleic Oils for FoodThe high oleic oils that are increasingly becoming popular in the food industry are:High oleic sunflower oilHigh oleic soybean oilHigh oleic canola oilOleic Acid Content in Various Edible OilsThe following list shows an estimation of the concentration of oleic acid in some of the most widely used edible oils:
Skin Benefits of High Oleic Oils
The benefits that different types of oils provide to the skin are no longer secret – from being excellent cleansers to wonderful moisturizers, oils are simply great for the skin. However, just like other skincare products, you have to choose the right kind of oil for your skin to gain the benefits.
Oils that have high levels of oleic acid are the best natural remedy for treating dryness, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. It penetrates deep into the skin and helps replenish the lost moisture that is part of the natural aging process. Oleic acid also helps to seal moisture within the skin and prevents it from evaporating.
Oleic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties due to which it promotes skin healing and rejuvenation. The natural compound is also helpful for people suffering from skin conditions that damage skin, such as psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
The antioxidant compounds present in the oleic acid helps to fight against the free radical damage, which is the leading cause of premature aging.
What makes oleic acid even more amazing is the fact that it is non-comedogenic i.e. it doesn’t clog pores.
Here are some of the best high oleic oils for skin:
Camellia seed Oil
While high oleic oils are increasingly gaining popularity in the food industry due to increasing awareness about the wide range of benefits they offer, oleic acid is also packed with many skin beneficial properties. However, different varieties of high oleic oils are used for both purposes.
All in all, the benefits that high oleic oils offer make them worth using.