In recent years, as trans-fats have been eliminated from the U.S. food supply, many food service operations have turned to importing foreign tropical oils, such as palm oil, for frying. While these oils sometimes offer advantages in terms of stability, palm oil is not produced domestically, increasing U.S. dependence on foreign edible oils. As a result, use of domestic sources of edible oils is declining. In addition, some of the more stable oils available have fatty acid profiles that can negatively impact cardiovascular health (i.e. they are high in saturated fats).
Meanwhile, consumer interest in functional foods has been increasing. Lipid ingredients offer opportunities to incorporate compounds that not only extend the shelf life and fry life of the oil, but also deliver health benefits to consumers through better fatty acid profiles and the presence of antioxidants. The objective of our research is to address these issues simultaneously: to improve the oxidative stability of domestic vegetable oils as well as to develop new functional ingredients to replace other lipid ingredients currently in use. The creation of a better vegetable oil is achieved through two avenues:
•• blending of commodity oils with specialty oils and
•• addition of antioxidants, which have the potential to improve both the stability of the oil and the health of the consumer
We anticipate that our investigation of both of these avenues will lead to novel, domestically-derived lipid ingredients. Replacing imported edible oils with domestically-derived ingredients will provide economic benefits for the U.S., and the complete elimination of trans-fats from the food supply, as well as the improvement of fatty acid profiles within ingredients, will result in improved consumer health, which in turn may lead to lower health care costs.