Health promoting constituents in plant derived edible oils

David Beardsell, Julie Francis, Dan Ridley, Kevin Robards

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Of all the edible oils, only that produced from olives has had its health attributes studied in detail. For maximum nutritional benefit, an edible oil should contain minimal levels of saturated fats, especially lauric and myristic acids and minimal levels of trans fatty acids. If the oils are not to be heated repeatedly and if they contain high levels of antioxidants, they should contain omega-3 and possibly omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fatty acid profile should be dominated by monounsaturated fatty acids. Secondary products which act as antioxidants including polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, tocopherols and carotenoids increase the shelf-life of oils, reportedly reduce cardiovascular disease and provide some anticarcinogenic properties. More research is also required, but there is evidence that phytosterols and squalene are also beneficial components of edible oils. Selection and breeding can be used to increase the desirable components of edible oils. Geographic, culture and environmental factors can influence the properties of the oil produced by crops, and methods of processing can greatly reduce the levels of health promoting components. Despite the current anti-GMO sentiments, biotechnology should be used both in the development of plant cultivars which produce nutritional oils and in processing to maximize the desirable components.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-34
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Food Lipids
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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