Oils: Less Is More

by Laurie Gorton
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Under “foods and food components to reduce,” the newly announced 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommended, “Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids.”

Consumers “get” this message, according to Roger Daniels, director, R&D, Bunge Oils, Bradley, IL. Product attributes related to wellness and nutrition rank right behind taste, quality, convenience and price, he observed.

The guidelines also offered corresponding advice to replace solid fats with liquid oils. Those solid fats are typically high in saturated fatty acids. But wringing such fats out of formulations is not so easy for bakers who rely on the functional structuring characteristics of solid fats. Partial hydrogenation will increase the solid fat content of liquid oils, but it also creates trans fatty acids, abjured by health experts. In the quest to remove trans fats, shortenings based on palm oils provide answers — but at the cost of adding saturated fats. “Food companies do want to take down saturates,” Mr. Daniels said. “There is great interest in getting to a more modest level.”

Here, interesterification can contribute needed improvements in bakery shortening options, demonstrated by Bunge Oils’ line of UltraBlends Enzymatic Solutions. Starting with domestically sourced soybean oil and blending it with hard stocks, the Bunge proprietary process enzymatically rearranges the fatty acids in the triaclglycerides that make up all fats and oils. Specifically, it randomizes the fatty acids present at positions No. 1 and No. 3 on triaclglyceride molecules.

Compared with physically blending, interesterification yields wider plasticity ranges and a more consistent solid fat content (SFC) curve. The resulting shortenings create less variability in firmness of dough, especially beneficial to the machining requirements of automated bakery production processes.

“The process allows expression of a wider variety of melting triacylglycerides, which aids the baker by ensuring the hardness or stiffness in the dough is appropriate for the intended end-use application,” Mr. Daniels said. The process allows the nutritionally desirable poly­unsaturated oils to be distributed in a way that maintains the functionality of the shortening.

For baked foods, the UltraBlends products are drop-in replacements for traditional fats. “Use them as you would traditional margarines, shortenings or fry oils,” Mr. Daniels said. They work in most bakery applications: pie dough, cookies, cakes and icings. Frying applications include donuts and tortilla chips. Properties such as donut sugar adhesion, color development, fry life and aroma are much more like that achieved from traditional oils.

Eating quality improves, too. “These products are able to hold oil, which in turn contributes to a uniform bakery product with the tender eating traits consumers expect,” Mr. Daniels said.

“Palm-oil-based fats and oils appropriately applied have a place in the baker’s ingredient toolbox,” he said. “Yet for those bakers who desire to increase the functional or working range of the shortening or margarine in their end-use application or who would like to reduce saturates, bakery formulations without the use of palm-oil-based fats and oils may be in order. The UltraBlends products compare quite favorably in function and flavor to palm-oil-based fats.”

With UltraBlends margarine and donut fry oil now available, an icing shortening is currently undergoing commercial trials. More details about these shortenings are available through the company’s websites at www.bungeoils.com and www.transfatsolutions.com.
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