Fats, whether in solid (shortening) or liquid (oil) form, contribute a lot to baked foods. They impart a rich flavor profile that consumers expect while offering up functional attributes such as tenderness, mouthfeel and moistness, and visual appeal. All these benefits as well as the nutrition fats deliver are based in the lipid’s molecular makeup.

“The functionality and nutritional benefits vary based on the fatty acid profile, source of oil, refining process the oils go through as well as its crystalline structure,” said Chandra Ankolekar; PhD; technical manager; bakery, dressings and oils; Kemin Food Technologies. “For example, some oils such as chia, flaxseed and sunflower oils can bring high amounts of nutritionally beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids, whereas olive and coconut oils can bring their distinctive flavor to certain food applications. Certain oils bring characteristic mouthfeel attributed to their solid fat content and crystalline structure.”

Understanding how oils differ on the molecular level points to what each of them brings to a formulation. Base oils that have more oleic acid, like sunflower or peanut oils, have more oxidative stability, contributing to better shelf life. This is because oleic acid only has one site for a chemical reaction, a site of unsaturation.

“The benefit of one site for reaction, typically in the class of oxidation, is that these reactions that cause off-odors, off-flavors, off-colors and polymerization are minimized when compared to traditional shortening systems,” said Roger Daniels, vice president, research, development, innovation and quality, Stratas Foods.

This results not just in longer shelf life but also no trans fat, high monounsaturates, low levels of saturated fat, clean flavor profile and superior stability. The oils Stratas Foods offers — mid-oleic sunflower, high-oleic sunflower and high-oleic canola — are all non-GMO.

Higher polyunsaturated content in flax or canola contribute to a better nutritional profile; however, unlike their high-oleic counterparts, these options have some shelf life limitations.

“When targeting the nutritional attributes of highly polyunsaturated oils in heat-stressed or extended shelf life applications, ADM’s solutions include natural antioxidants to help protect the quality of the finished goods,” said Michelle Peitz, technical sales, refined oils, ADM Oilseeds.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on fats and oils, click here.