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Blended Edible Vegetable Oils for Good Health

Dr. Kalpagam Polasa

Oils are main sources of macronutrients. But all nutrients may not be found in single seed oils. It requires blending of edible vegetable oils in a regulated ratio. However,  the industry and regulators have to be vigilant for the quality and standard.

 

Introduction

Oils and fats are important macronutrients required by humans. Fats provide calories. Oils enhance the flavor of food, induce satiety and improve palatability. They are required for many physiological functions, transportation of fat soluble vitamins, membrane structure and many other functions. Edible vegetable oils are obtained from many sources. Some of the commonly sold oils are coconut oil, groundnut oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, palm oil, olive oil,soya bean oil and cotton seed oil. Rice bran oil is a cereal derived oil as it is obtained from the bran of rice.

Demand for Edible Oil in India

The demand for edible oil in India has grown steadily and is estimated in the range of 22.5 to 25 million MT.  Since we are not able to meet this demand from indigenous sources, we have to import oil.  Data available for 2017-18 is given below.

Some Statistics of Indian Edible Oil Industry (2017-18)

Particular Qty Lakh MT Percentage
Total Oil Demand 225 100
Import 150 67
Domestic Production 75 33
Refined Oil 195 87
Expelled Oil 30 13
Top 5 Refined Oils 179 80
Palm Oil 90 40
Soy Oil 50 22
Sunflower  Oil 20 9
Cotton Seed Oil 10 4
Rice Bran Oil 9 4
Top 4 Expeller Pressed Oils 30 13
Mustard Oil 20 9
Coconut Oil 4 2
Groundnut Oil 4 2
Other 2 1
Usages 225 100
 Industry use -B2B ( HORECA &  Food Industry) 50 22
Consumer Packs – As Single Oil 100 44
Loose Oil 60 27
Vanaspati 10 4
Official Blending – Agmark /FSSAI Licensed 4 2
Other Usage 1 0.4

 

Fat Requirement

According to studies made by ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition(NIN), Hyderabad the ‘Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)’ of fat intake for Indians is 30g per day per individual. The fat consumed must contain all the three types of fatty acids namely, saturated fatty acids (SAFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) including the n3 and n6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The linoleic (LA n-6) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA n-3) are essential fatty acids. These are precursors of several biologically active molecules which participate inphysiological functions. Oilfrom a particular source has its ownunique composition of different types of fatty acids. The fatty acids in oil may be short chain, medium chain or long chain, and saturated or unsaturated.

How Much to Consume

The consumption of SAFA, MUFA and PUFA should be at levels of 8-10% each of total energy intake. SAFA increases serum total and LDL cholesterol levels, reduces sensitivity to insulin and increases thrombogenicty(1).

 

According to World Health Organization (WHO) people at risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are advised to restrict SAFA intake to 7% of energy. The people at risk for CVD must avoid full fat milk, cream, butter, ghee and all forms of saturated fats and SAFA containing foods.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is not present in vegetable oils. It is found in fats of animal origin like milk, butter, ghee, eggs and animal foods. It is also synthesized in the liver and is attached to proteins becoming lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are composed of cholesterol triacylglycerol and phospholipids. It is transported in body by the carrier protein, namely, the low density lipoprotein. It may be used for synthesis of steroids, vitamin D and maintain cell membrane integrity. However, since cholesterol can be synthesized in our body, it is not considered as an essential nutrient.

Fatty Acids in Different Oils

Coconut oil, butter, ghee and vanaspati have more of saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids are available from groundnut oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, palmolein and olive oils.The polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic-n6)PUFA are present in safflower, sunflower, cotton seed, soya bean oil and corn oil.  Oils like palmolein, ground nut oil, rice bran oil and sesame oil have low to moderate levels of n-6 PUFA. Thus no single oil contains all the 3 different types of fatty acids in desirable proportion. Oils have  other health benefiting phytochemicals.  Sesame oil has lignans and sesamol, red palm oil has beta carotene & other carotenoids, and rice bran oil has oryzanol.

Benefits of Consuming a Variety of Oils

The beneficial effects of any edible oil depend on the unique fatty acid composition, degree of unsaturation and fatty acids alignment in the triglyceride structure. Consuming too much of saturated fat elevates total serum cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDL), increased insulin resistance and thrombogenicity,increasingthe risk for CVD. But SAFA is stable and doesnot get oxidized. PUFA and MUFA reduce the elevation in blood cholesterol levels but get oxidized as they are unsaturatedand hence areless stable than SAFA.PUFA are responsible for maintaining membrane structure. The n-6 PUFA are present in all cell membranes and n-3 PUFA is found in nerve cells. The alpha linolenic acid has anti atherogenic, antithrombotic properties. Therefore, a balance between n-6/n-3levels in the body is good. Too much or too little of any one of these is undesirable for optimal health.

A healthy option can be accomplished only by consuming different types of oils. NIN has recommended groundnut oil or sesameoil or ricebran oil plus mustard oil as one choice, and ground nut oil or sesame oil or ricebran oil plus canolaoil as another choice.  Other combinations can be ground nut oil or sesame oilplus rice bran oil plus soyabean oil, andpalmolein plus soyabean oil. Safflower oil or sunflower oil plus palmolein plus mustard oil can also be useful.

 

We can consume different types of oils to achieve the recommended levels of different fatty acids at home. However, it is difficult for everyone to understand the implications and practice of oil rotation to obtain the desired levels of SAFA, PUFA and MUFA. Another alternative would be to blend the various oils technologically by the industry and make one single ‘Blended Edible Vegetable Oil (BEVO)’. The blend has another advantage. Ricebran oil has oryzanol. Soya bean oil has high level of ALNA. Linseed oil or flax seed oil has high level of omega 3 fat. So linseed oil can be blended with ground nut oil. BEVO can reduce triacylglycerol and cholesterol levels in blood.

 

Edible oils are also rich in various non glyceride components such as sterols, carotenoids and vitamin E. While single oils have their own set of unique non-glyceride components such as, rice bran oil has oryzanol and olive oils have polyphenols, there is no single oil that would provide all the required nutritional benefits.

Importance of BEVO

The blended vegetable oil can provide desired fatty acids in recommended levels. Since the blends have right mix of SAFA, MUFA and PUFA, there is improvement in oxidative stability of oil. Blended oil has less chance of peroxide formation than individual oil for example soyabean oil can be blended with olive oil or palm oil or coconut oil. Natural antioxidants reduce the rate of oxidative changes during frying &storage, prevent food turning rancid and improve shelf life. By using BEVO, we may not have totally saturated or unsaturated oil. Oil blends can be used as alternative to hydrogenated fat. In BEVO we can have phytonutrients and enhanced flavor. Coconut oil blends with sunflower oil and ricebran oil and show less peroxide formation.

 

Regulation

 

BEVO is regulated for quality standards. It needs to be clarified here that oil blending is different from intended adulteration of oil by mixing a non-declared component. Also, simply mixing any two oils cannot meet the quality parameters of BEVO as given under FSSAI and Agricultural Produce Grading and Marketing Act, 1937 (AGMARK). Blended EdibleVegetable Oils are permitted ina regulated ratio of not less than 20%. The packaged oil has to declare on its labelthe oils used in the preparation of the specific blend. No exemption can be given by States as is the case with single oil.The oil has to be sold as packaged food with a size limit of 15kgs.

 

The Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, Regulation 2.2.1 (24) prescribed standards of Blended Edible Vegetable Oil.The Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation, 2011, Sec.2.4.2 (11) provides that Blended Edible Vegetable Oil can be sold under AGMARK Certification mark. Under AGMARK Act authorities are responsible for checking the composition of Blended Edible Vegetable Oil.

The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2001 also prescribe labelling requirements for Blended Edible Vegetable Oil which are being amended from time to time. Most recent one being in 2018, wherein the font size requirement to mention Blended Edible Vegetable Oil has been increased.  It is pertinent to mention thatevery package of Blended Edible Vegetable Oil is required to carry the following label declaration immediately below the Brand Name on the front of the pack, namely,

Blended Edible Vegetable Oil

Name and Nature of edible vegetable oil……..% by weight

It further provides that the font size of the label declaration shall be 3mm for packages up to 1Ltr and 10mm for packages above 1Ltr. Further, the following declaration shall be made in bold capital letters along the name of the product on front/central panel.

Not ToBe Sold Loose

 

There is a specific prohibition under FSSAI Laws for sale of BEVO in loose form under the FoodSafety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction of Sales) Regulation, 2011.

 

Blended Edible Vegetable Oil and Fat Spreads in addition to FSSAI regulation is governed by AGMARK for checking on standards as compared to Single Seed Oil which does not require AGMARK Certification.

 

Enforcement Issues Regarding Adulteration In Single Seed Oils

 

Unlike legitimate manufacturers of BEVO, an adulterator of single seed oil is unlikely to be deterred by regulatory requirements unless there is effective enforcement. Adulteration of Mustard Oil has been highlighted many times in the market. The reason for this is that adulteration of single seed oils is carried out through unscrupulous means with the intent to mislead, even though stringent norms of registration, licensing, testing and labeling are in place. Any proposals to restrict Blended Edible Vegetable Oils with prior approval will only make hurdles for BEVO manufacturers while adulterators will continue with their act. Restrictions on manufacture of BEVO will only deprive consumers with the benefits associated with BEVO and may, in fact, bolster the adulterators of single seed oils.

 

Conclusions

 

Fats and oils are essential macronutrients required by humans. The RDA for fat is 30g/per day/person. Three types of fatty acidsare required namely, SAFA, MUFA and PUFA. The essential fatty acids are linoleic acid (LAn-6) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA n-3).The intakes should be so as to maintain a ratio of PUFA to SAFA of 0.8 to 1.0 and linoleic acid/alpha linolenic acid(n-6/n-3). It is not possible by the general population to consume oil maintainingthis ratiothrough rotation or other methods. Each vegetable oil has a different unique flavor. Oils contain non nutrients like tocopherols, tocotrienols, beta carotene, sterols  and oryzanol etc.Many of them are antioxidants. Tocotrienol is in palm oil, lignans in sesame oil. It is known that oryzanol and tocotrienols reduce cholesterol.  All these phytonutrients cannot be present in a single seed oil with the desired fatty acid profile.

 

This can be done by blending edible vegetable oils. Fats and oil can be designed to provide health promoting properties through blending. Industry has economical and acceptable technology to prepare blended edible vegetable oils with balanced fatty acid profile, greater stability and improved content of antioxidant and bioactivecompounds. Effective enforcement measures will be required to check adulteration in single seed oils. Any proposal to restrict the manufacture of Blended Edible Vegetable Oils through prior approvals or by imposing additional checks will suppress the healthy option of blending and embolden the adulterators of single seed oils.  The industry and regulators have to take a very thoughtful approach.

(Dr Kalpagam Polasa, is Scientist G & Director In-charge (Retd), National Institute of Nutrition-ICMR. Views expressed are personal. )