Designer Lipids

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March 2005

 

Designer Lipids

By Donna Berry
Contributing Editor

If lipids are defined as fatty acids and their derivatives, as well as substances related biosynthetically or functionally to these compounds, then what are designer lipids? By the end of this article, the answer should be at hand. Then, formulating foods and beverages with these tailor-made fats and oils will be the next step. Designer lipids not only have the ability to improve the nutritional profile of foods, they also often ease manufacturing processes and improve product shelf life.

Lipid linguistics
First, let's talk the talk before making the walk back to the lab to reformulate and innovate. The provided definition for lipids not only encompasses fatty acids and their esters, it also includes compounds such as bile acids, cholesterol, fatty alcohols, plant sterols, terpenes and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as many of their respective esters.

Lipids are categorized into two broad classes. The first, simple lipids, upon hydrolysis, yield -- at most -- two types of primary products, i.e., a glycerol molecule and fatty acid(s). The other, complex lipids, yields three or more primary hydrolysis products. Most complex lipids are either glycerophospholipids, or simply phospholipids, and contain a polar phosphorus moiety and a glycerol backbone, or glycolipids, which contain a polar carbohydrate moiety instead of phosphorus.

Most simple lipids fall into the category referred to as triacylglycerols, more commonly called triglycerides -- a less-accurate term, but easier to say. Triacylglycerol is more accurate because the nomenclature reflects the ester (fat at one end and alcohol at the other) formed when a fatty acid reacts with an alcohol, such as glycerol. "Acyl" is the name of the fatty-acid part of the ester. Thus, a triacylglycerol best defines three fatty acids connected to a glycerol backbone through esterification. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Research Triangle Park, NC, also prefers the term triacylglycerol, as it reflects the stereospecific numbering (sn) system used in the nomenclature of glycerolipids. The most accurate term, in fact, is triacyl-sn-glycerol. However, for simplicity, triacylglycerol is the term used among lipid chemists.

Thus, some other simple lipids are monoacylglycerols (a single fatty acid esterified to glycerol) and diacylglycerols (two fatty acids esterified to glycerol). Sterols and sterol esters are considered simple lipids, with cholesterol being the most common.

Cholesterol, a simple lipid, is the primary animal fat sterol and is found in vegetable oils in trace amounts. Vegetable-oil sterols, or plant sterols, are collectively termed phytosterols, and have achieved recognition in recent years because of their ability to remove "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the body, an excess of which increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Phytosterols have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol, yet sufficiently different to block LDL cholesterol absorption in the intestine, thus leading to its elimination from the body. In fact, FDA allows health claims indicating that phytosterol-containing products can lower the risk of heart disease. The claim also covers plant stanols, which are chemically related to sterols in both the esterified and unesterified forms.

Free fatty acids, as the name suggests, are the unattached fatty acids present in a fat. They, too, are categorized as simple lipids. In addition to these, more simple lipids and numerous complex lipids exist, but in order to get to the crux of this article, it is time to move on. However, before discussing designer lipids, it is necessary to define fatty acids.

Fatty-acid facts
Fatty acids are compounds synthesized in nature via condensation of malonyl coenzyme A units by a fatty-acid synthase complex. Fatty acids consist of strongly linked carbon and hydrogen atoms in a chainlike structure. They contain an even number of carbon atoms, and can be saturated (contains no double bonds) or unsaturated (contains double bonds). They can also contain a variety of substituent groups. At the end of the chain is a reactive acid group composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. This acid group esterifies with glycerol to make triacylglycerols.

In general, saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, whereas unsaturated fatty acids range from soft to liquid. The number and position of double bonds in an unsaturated fatty acid also impact its state. Saturated fats are also more stable, i.e., less prone to oxidation, as compared to an unsaturated fatty acid with numerous double bonds (polyunsaturated).

The common fatty acids of plant tissues are C16 and C18 straight-chain compounds with zero to three double bonds of cis configuration. These fatty acids are also abundant in animal tissues, together with other fatty acids with a somewhat wider range of chain lengths and up to six cis double bonds separated by methylene groups. Methylene-interrupted double bonds are also referred to as nonconjugated. Conjugated bonds have only a single bond between double bonds.

In the Geneva system of nomenclature, the carbon atoms in a fatty-acid chain are numbered consecutively from the end of the chain, with the carbon of the carboxyl group being considered number one. By convention, the lower number of the two carbons that it joins identifies a specific bond in a chain. For example, in cis-9-octadecenoic acid, which has the common name of oleic acid, the double bond falls between the 9th and 10th carbon atoms.

Another form of nomenclature designates oleic acid as "18:1" (18 carbon atoms and one double bond), or more precisely as "18:1(n-9)" to indicate that the last double bond is nine carbon atoms from the terminal methyl group. (The notation "n-" is read as "omega.") Having only one double bond, oleic acid is considered a monounsaturated fatty acid. It also happens to be the most-abundant monosaturate in nature. The most-abundant saturated fatty acid is palmitic acid (16:0).

The C18 polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, or cis-9,cis-12-octadecadienoic acid (18:2(n-6)), and alpha-linolenic (ALA), or cis-9,cis-12,cis-15-octadecatrienoic acid (18:3(n-3)), omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, respectively, are major components of most plant lipids. Nutritionally, these are essential fatty acids as they cannot be synthesized in animal tissues. Once the body has these fatty acids, through sequential desaturation and chain-elongation steps, it converts them to C20 and C22 polyunsaturated fatty acids, with three to six double bonds.

ALA, specifically, is a precursor to two much more biologically active omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), or cis-5,cis-8,cis-11,cis-14, cis-17-eicosapentaenoic acid (18:5(n-3)), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or cis-4,cis-7,cis-10,cis-13,cis-16,cis-19-docosahexaenoic acid (18:6(n-3)).

Ideally, elongase and desaturase enzymes convert ALA into these long-chain metabolites in the body, but more than 80% of ALA goes to beta-oxidation, and conversion of the remainder is notoriously inefficient. Research indicates that the body prefers preformed EPA and DHA to converted ALA. In fact, one study traced only 6% of ALA all the way to EPA and 3.8% to DHA.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can also be conjugated, as is the case with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Milkfat is the richest source of CLA, an 18-carbon polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, which is recognized as possessing health and wellness benefits. CLA occurs naturally as a mixture of isomers in animal-based foods, such as dairy and beef. Microorganisms in the animal's rumen convert linoleic acid to CLA with the cis-9,trans-11 and trans-10,cis-12 isomers predominant. The cis-9,trans-11 isomer is the most effective form in the human body. CLA is currently manufactured by several companies. This chemically synthesized CLA contains a variety of isomers not found in nature in addition to the predominant isomers.

Other fatty acids, referred to as branched-chain types, most often contain an isomethyl or an anteisomethyl branch. Fatty acids can also have many other substituent groups, including acetylenic and conjugated double bonds, allenic groups, cyclopropane, cyclopropene, cyclopentene and furan rings, and hydroxy-, epoxy- and keto-groups.

Transforming a problem
CLA contains a trans double bond, the type associated with increasing the risk of heart disease. The risk is so great, that FDA has mandated that by Jan. 1, 2006 all foods and beverages must include a separate line in their Nutrition Facts panel quantifying trans-fat levels. This poses conflict, as research indicates that not all trans fatty acids are bad. In fact, some, such as CLA, are downright beneficial.

Confused? Let's back up a minute. The terms cis and trans refer to geometric isomers (compounds with the same chemical formula that exist in more than one geometric configuration) of unsaturated fatty acids. If the hydrogen atoms on each side of a double bond are on the same side, the arrangement is called cis. If these hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides, then the arrangement is called trans.

The cis configuration has a considerably lower melting point than trans acids of the same carbon length chain. In fact, trans fatty acids behave more similar to saturated fatty acids than unsaturated cis-fatty acids, which is how they got their negative reputation.

Commercially, trans fatty acids are created by hydrogenation, a process employed to increase the oxidative stability and/or modify the physical and functional properties of unsaturated fatty acids. The end result is a fatty acid with a higher melting point, higher solid-fat content and longer shelf life without rancidity.

Hydrogenation basically adds hydrogen to some or all of the double bonds in an unsaturated fatty acid, converting them to single bonds. Partial hydrogenation can also reposition hydrogen atoms on the double bond, changing the unsaturated fatty acid's geometric isomerization from cis to trans.

Designer lipids are not new, as the process of hydrogenation was one of the first ways man manipulated commercial fats and oils for enhanced functionality. However, in the context of this article, designer lipids also possess nutritional benefits, as compared to lipids direct from nature. Thus, hydrogenated fats are quickly eliminated.

This is why many food manufacturers are also looking to eliminate trans fats from their products. After the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, 2005, many consumers will use the trans-fat line in the Nutrition Facts panel as a justification to buy or not to buy a certain brand of product.

"Indeed, many food processors are seeking solutions that will permit their products to carry less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, which can be reported as zero on the Nutrition Facts panel," says Bob Wainwright, technical director, Cargill Dressings, Sauces, and Oils North America, Minneapolis. "This objective is often coupled with concurrent requirements to not significantly increase saturated fats and/or eliminate hydrogenation. These criteria are often quite technically challenging -- particularly for applications wherein the fat provides structure and body."

An alternative to hydrogenating unsaturated fats to improve their functionality comes in the form of processing techniques that transform the chemical composition of the oil so that the end product has few or no trans isomers. As suppliers improve such techniques, making the process more efficient, trans-free alternatives are becoming affordable and plentiful.

One such technique is interesterification, a process that qualifies as designing fats. Interesterification rearranges the fatty acids attached to the glycerol moiety. The arrangement of fatty acids in any naturally occurring oil usually occurs in a specific pattern characteristic of that oil, but it can be changed with the aid of a catalyst. Importantly, interesterification does not change the degree of unsaturation or isomerization. Thus, it differs greatly from hydrogenation.

Because interesterification cannot turn a cis double bond into a trans double bond, many formulators are turning to interesterified oils as a trans-fat alternative.

There are two interesterification processes -- chemical and enzymatic. Chemical interesterification results in a more-random rearranging of fatty acids, whereas enzymatic interesterification is more precise and controlled. The catalyst in enzymatic interesterification is a 1,3-specific lipase, which rearranges the fatty acids in the 1- and 3-positions of triacylglycerol molecules. The reaction is relatively slow and can be stopped at any given time to ensure the right degree of interesterification.

In 2003, ADM, Decatur, IL, introduced NovaLipid(TM), an extensive line of zero- and reduced-trans oils and fats produced through enzymatic interesterification. Soon afterward, ADM wrote FDA requesting that the term "interesterified oil" be acceptable for use on ingredient panels. In June 2004, FDA stated that it had no objection to this terminology provided it is applied to interesterified fats that contain more than 20% stearic, a saturated fatty acid.

Why single out stearic acid? Well, interesterification can improve the textural and creaming properties of certain triacylglycerols -- in ADM's case, soybean oil. According to the company, stearic-acid-rich fat is the best solid-fat solution when replacing trans-fat-rich shortenings in various food applications, particularly bakery products, where manufacturers need to use solid fats.

The interesterification process used to create the NovaLipid line of fats yields a product with 20% to 40% stearic acid. The process involves combining about 25% fully saturated soybean oil, which is trans fat free but also rich in stearic acid, and 75% liquid soybean oil. The enzymatic interesterification process rearranges the stearate-rich fatty acids and the unsaturated fatty acids to yield a homogenous fat that is virtually trans-free, yet solid at room temperature, giving it characteristics well suited to bakery applications.

Why replace hydrogenated fats containing trans fatty acids with interesterified soybean oil containing high levels of saturated fatty acids? Well, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Dallas-based American Heart Association and the Institute of Medicine all have highlighted the fact that not all saturated fats have equal effects on cholesterol levels. Based on data published in clinical studies from peer-reviewed literature, WHO concluded that stearic acid, a major component of fully hydrogenated soybean oil, probably has a cholesterol-neutral effect on blood LDL, as compared to the noteworthy LDL-raising effect of saturated fatty acids myristic (14:0) and palmitic (16:0).

Going back to CLA, the good news is that FDA defines trans fatty acids as "unsaturated fatty acids that contain one or more isolated (i.e., nonconjugated) double bonds in a trans configuration."

Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager, North America, Lipid Nutrition, a division of Loders Croklaan B.V., the Netherlands, explains that "according to this ruling, CLA has been clearly excluded from the definition of trans fatty acids. Although one of the unsaturated bonds in CLA is trans, in most cases the CLA contains two unsaturated bonds that are not isolated, but neighboring, and conjugated."

Other fatty-acid manipulation
Another trans-free oil from ADM, Enova(TM)oil, comes from all-natural soy and canola oils through a patented process that increases the concentration of diacylglycerols in the oil to at least 80%. About 70% of the diacylglycerols in the product are in the 1,3-form. This form makes Enova oil unique as the body digests and absorbs them the same way as triacylglycerols, but later metabolizes the 1,3-diacylglycerols in a slightly different way.

When consumers metabolize the fat in the oil, "less triacylglycerols appear in the blood because much of the fat in Enova oil is burned as energy in the liver," says Branin Lane, research manager, nutritional science, ADM. "Traditional cooking oils consist mostly of triacylglycerols with a small amount of diacylglycerols. Enova oil consists mostly of diacylglycerols. It is this unique feature that helps consumers maintain, not gain, weight. The body breaks down Enova oil and traditional triacylglycerols oils exactly the same way and absorbs the resulting fatty acids into the intestine. Then the intestine rebuilds the fatty acids into fat molecules and combines them into packets that are sent to the bloodstream to be stored in body tissues."

But according to research, the body doesn't treat all fats quite the same. That is what makes this oil different. "Due to the shape of the 1,3-diacylglycerols molecules, enzymes in the intestine cannot recombine the pieces of this fat into fat molecules, so less fat is passed into the bloodstream to be stored in the body," Lane says, noting that about 56% of the oil is 1,3- diacylglycerols fat, which means most of the fats in the oil are not stored as fat in the body. "Instead, the metabolized pieces of this fat are sent to the liver, where they are oxidized. Basically, they are burned as energy."

Product designers can look at another healthful oil high in diacylglycerols, MultiOil, marketed by Enzymotec Ltd., Migdal HaEmeq, Israel, which contains about 15% diacylglycerols. It also contains 25% phytosterols, which possess heart-healthy qualities. Produced using a patented enzymatic process, this product is designed to substitute for cooking oil or as an ingredient in functional-food formulations.

It is also possible to manipulate triacylglycerols to improve their nutritional profile. For example, the structured triacylglycerol Benefat® from Danisco, New Century, KS, delivers 5 calories per gram, an almost 50% reduction compared to the 9 calories per gram found in traditional fats. The reduction in calories results from replacing the traditional three long-chain fatty acids on the glycerol backbone with either one or two lower- calorie short-chain fatty acids. Hence, the common name for this product is "salatrim" (short- and long-chain triacylglycerol molecule).

The short-chain acids (C2 and C4) may be acetic, propionic, butyric or a combination of all three, while the long-chain fatty acid (C16 to C22) is predominantly stearic and derived from fully hardened vegetable oil. It is the uniqueness of these fatty acids that results in the range's reduced-calorie claim. Salatrim is also free of trans fatty acids and highly resistant to oxidation.

Bunge Ltd., Des Moines, IA, is rolling out Delta(TM) SL, a proprietary processed natural vegetable oil metabolized by the human body more rapidly than traditional vegetable oils. "It has been shown to actually inhibit the body's ability to absorb cholesterol," says Roger Daniels, director, new business development for Bunge Oils. "Delta SL is metabolized by the body more rapidly than traditional fats. It is also enriched to help maintain a healthy lipid profile."

Refined breeding
Another science used to design better-for-you lipids involves breeding and gene modification to change the fatty-acid composition of vegetable oils or to change or increase valuable minor constituents, such as phytosterols.

One such oil resulted from 30 years of research by agronomists and food scientists at Iowa State University, Ames. "Asoyia(TM) oil has zero trans fats, reduced saturated fat, practically no transferable taste, a long fryer life and is not genetically modified," says Vivan Jennings, CEO of Asoyia LLC, Winfield, IA, noting that frying foods in the oil creates a crispier product.

The company produces the oil from 1% linolenic soybeans. Conventional soybean oil contains 7% linolenic acid. The "ultra low lin," which is how the company describes the product, eliminates the need for hydrogenation to give the oil stability. It also has only 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. Cargill Inc., Wayzata, MN, processes the soybeans into oil for the product.

"When we tested Asoyia in our restaurant, our customers didn't notice any difference in taste," says Jason Wheelock, manager of Hickory Park Restaurant in Ames, IA. "From a cooking perspective, the oil also looked better and lasted twice as long as the oil we used to use."

Indeed, in extensive tests by foodservices and restaurants, the oil lasted at least 25% longer in frying applications than conventional hydrogenated soybean oil. This is because foods fried in this product absorb less oil. Although Asoyia oil costs more to produce, its extended frying life offsets the higher purchase price. Furthermore, with an extended frying life, operators require less labor to change the oil and also have decreased fryer down time. This, too, translates to increased profitability.

Another new low-linolenic soybean oil -- Nutrium(TM) Low Lin --resulted from of an alliance between Bunge and DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition, Wilmington, DE. It is made from the proprietary Pioneer® variety 93M20 soybean, which was developed by DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Des Moines, IA. The new soybean variety contains less than 3% linolenic acid, so its oil does not require hydrogenation for stability and shelf life.

"We've been developing soybeans with improved oil since 1991, and that's why we can deliver this improvement in varieties with the complete genetic package that farmers today demand," says John Soper, DuPont soybean research director. Pioneer variety 93M20 has undergone significant testing in the field and the company is developing additional low-linolenic varieties to meet demand.

Monsanto Company, St. Louis, also has its own less-than-3%-linolenic-acid soybean. "Cargill will process and market Advantage® 100 Soybean LL produced from Monsanto's Vistive(TM) soybeans," says Wainwright. "Indeed, plant genetics offers a powerful technique wherein the plant can be instructed as to the characteristics that are to be expressed in the oil it produces. While a number of changes are possible, Cargill has chosen to focus our technical resources on those traits which matter most to the consumer, and thereby to our customers: the food companies. These include: Eliminate trans fat, reduce and/or eliminate saturated fat, and reduce caloric content."

Soybeans are not the only vegetable-oil source that has undergone changes in recent years. Scientists have been able to create a variety of fatty-acid profiles in oilseeds using carefully controlled, nontransgenic breeding programs. In addition to the low-linolenic soybean oils mentioned, food formulators have other options, such as low-linolenic canola, high-oleic canola, high-oleic sunflower, mid-oleic sunflower and high-oleic soybean oils.

USDA developed mid-oleic sunflower oil using standard breeding techniques, and various industrial-oil suppliers have sold it as a commodity oil since 1999. On average, mid-oleic sunflower oil contains about 9% saturated fat, 65% monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) and 26% polyunsaturated fat (mostly linoleic acid).

"Having only a trace of linolenic acid, this mid-oleic sunflower oil does not require hydrogenation, eliminating any concerns over trans fats in baked and fried foods," says Kristen Ciuba, a nutritionist working with the National Sunflower Association, Bismarck, ND.

"Humko's Trisun® series of identity-preserved high-oleic sunflower oils have low levels of saturated fat and meet food manufacturers' stability requirements without hydrogenation," adds Lynn Lawrence, technology manager, Humko Oil Products, a division of ACH Food Companies Inc., Memphis, TN. "Advances in patented crop-breeding technology have provided the means to achieve this unique oil composition, and all without any genetic modifications." He notes that the oil is completely traceable from crop to finished product due to the company's strict identity-preservation program.

This trans-fatty-acid-free product is listed in ingredient statements simply as "sunflower oil." The oils were developed to reach a minimum 80% oleic acid content. "Trisun works great in applications demanding maximum shelf life, no flavor interference and no hydrogenation," says Lawrence. "It can even be used as a spray coating for products such as cereal due to its clear appearance." The product can also create a barrier coating on dried fruit to help ensure longer shelf life and prevent any moisture loss.

In addition to a wide variety of nonhydrogenated liquid oils offered, according to Lawrence the company has also developed a variety of bakery shortenings and margarines based on nonhydrogenated tropical oils that work well as trans alternatives.

Beyond the Facts
Formulators add some lipids to food systems not to improve the Nutrition Facts box, but rather to make select claims. Specifically, advancements in technology have made certain lipids available for nutritional supplementation purposes. These include CLA, DHA, EPA and plant sterols and stanols. Such designer lipids are highly concentrated and purified, thus lowering the dose of product needed for a specific health effect since the actives are not diluted down with carrier compounds that have little health benefit. Even though these ingredients are lipids, they contribute negligible calorie levels to foods.

"In the past few years, numerous methods of analysis have been improved upon in the field of lipid biology," says Luchsinger. "Sophisticated techniques, such as gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, have allowed researchers to identify and isolate many different lipids from complex mixtures. These isolates can then be tested to see if there are any interesting biological activities or potential health benefits.

"New incipients, or carriers have also been used to produce free-flowing powdered lipids that have longer shelf life and resist oxidation," Luchsinger says. "This translates into longer shelf life of finished products. Modification of oils through fractionation, enzyme-mediated esterification and a variety of purification techniques are currently driving the technological aspects of designer lipids."

For example, the first CLA ingredient to be recognized GRAS -- Clarinol(TM) -- comes from Lipid Nutrition. In late 2004, the company started marketing Clarinol A95, which is said to contain 95% of the highly active cis-9,trans-11 isomer. The company had notified FDA regarding four structure/function claims for its CLA. As enough time has passed since notification, formulators who include this brand of CLA can say that it: reduces weight gain, increases lean-muscle mass, reduces the amount of body fat and maintains body-weight level.

Because effective consumption levels vary by individuals and delivery vehicle, as well as the quantity of the active isomer, usage levels are not established. However, one human study showed that overweight individuals consuming 3.4 grams of CLA daily for 12 weeks lost 20% body fat. This loss occurred without any changes in diet or exercise, and higher doses of CLA did not lead to any greater loss.

"CLA works to reduce body fat by preventing fat accumulation in fat cells," says Luchsinger. "Fat normally enters the fat cell through a 'door' that is controlled by an enzyme, the 'key.' By acting on this enzyme, CLA keeps the door locked. When the door is locked, fat cannot enter the cells, thereby not allowing the amount of fat to increase in the cells. The less fat that is present in the cells, the smaller the cells become. The net result of reduced fat uptake is total body-fat loss.

"The increased breakdown of fat helps to fuel and preserve muscle mass, which in turn increases lean muscle mass," continues Luchsinger. "According to data available in the literature, the interplay between adipocytes (cells where fat is stored) and skeletal muscle cells (principal site of fat combustion for the production of energy) is playing a central role in the mechanism of action of CLA."

A study published in the June 2004 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that Tonalin® CLA, an exclusively licensed product of the Cognis Nutrition & Health Group, LaGrange, IL, reduces body-fat mass in healthy, overweight adults by as much as 9%. The company uses a proprietary process to convert linoleic acid from safflowers into CLA, a self-affirmed GRAS ingredient.

Other studies in humans have revealed that CLA blocks the production of inflammatory cytokines that cause destruction of joint cartilage. And still others have shown that that CLA stops excess production of prostaglandin 2, which has been linked to both arthritis and osteoporosis.

One of the many claims to fame for the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA is reducing blood cholesterol. In fact, in Sept. 2004, FDA approved a qualified health claim linking consumption of DHA and EPA through ordinary foods with reducing the risk of CHD.

Both EPA and DHA are naturally present in oily fish, such as salmon, lake trout, tuna and herring. Manufacturers also make these fatty acids available as ingredients for food and beverage fortification. The greatest obstacle with incorporating the highly unsaturated omega-3s into products is that addition increases the risk of off-flavors and rancidity. However, many suppliers have turned to advanced extraction and encapsulation technologies to overcome these issues.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the demographic breast cancer most frequently strikes. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to protect against stroke and reduce the symptoms of some inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Promising research also suggests these fatty acids might reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and maintain good cognitive function.

Lipid Nutrition is introducing the marine-based fish oil Marinol(TM), which contains DHA and EPA. Product developers have two forms from which to choose: omega-3 HS (high stability) powder and DHA HS (high stability) powder. Both of the products include the carbohydrate mannitol, which improves stability and prevents the smell of fish oil when in powder form. In fact, these new powders can help manufacturers overcome the taste issues typically associated with marine-based fish-oil products and can deliver the added benefit of increased stability in food applications and in storage, according to the company. The powders readily dry-blend with other ingredients, making them ideal for bakery applications, such as breads and biscuits, as well as milk and other beverage applications.

The omega-3 HS powder contains a minimum of 24% omega-3 fatty acids with 10% EPA and 7% DHA, while the DHA HS powder offers a minimum of 17% DHA and a low concentration of EPA.

"Lipid Nutrition realized that the challenge for any food or dietary supplement manufacturer has been to find a way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their products without compromising taste and stability," says David Lewis, business unit manager, North America, Lipid Nutrition. "By adding mannitol, we have found the solution. Unlike our new Marinol powders, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids do not offer the same high concentration of EPA and DHA."

Phytosterols are another group of lipid ingredients recognized for reducing blood-cholesterol levels. Many years of published clinical studies and significant scientific agreement support phytosterols' efficacy. FDA has approved a health claim for consumption of plant sterol and stanol esters and reducing the risk of CHD. Daily dietary-intake levels associated with reduced risk of heart disease are either 1.3 grams or more per day of plant sterol esters or 3.4 grams or more per day of plant stanol esters. Foods and beverages made with either cholesterol-lowering ingredient must specify on labels the daily dietary intake necessary to reduce the risk of CHD and the contribution one serving of the product makes to the specified daily dietary intake level.

Once formulators understand the details surrounding the health and functionality of today's designer lipids, fashioning innovative new and reformulated products should be a cinch. After all, not all lipids are created equal -- and knowing how they're best used is half the battle.


Donna Berry, president of Chicago-based Dairy & Food Communications, Inc., a network of professionals in business-to-business technical and trade communications, has been writing about product development and marketing for 11 years. Prior to that, she worked for Kraft Foods in the natural-cheese division. She has a B.S. in Food Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She can be reached at donnagorski@msn.com.


 

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