Alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA)Alpha-linolenic acid is a nutritious compound in our food. We need it to grow and develop. An adequate intake of alpha-linolenic acid helps to keep our heart and blood vessels healthy by maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. ALA is an omega 3 fatty acids.
Nuts, such as walnuts, are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid. It is also found in vegetable oils such as flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola (rapeseed) oil and soybean oil. It can also be taken as a supplement in liquid or capsule form.
An important fact to remember about alpha-linolenic acid is that our bodies actually ‘convert’ a part of it to DHA.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)Cardiovascular disease (also called heart disease) refers to a class of diseases that involve the heart and blood vessels in the entire body, such as the brain, legs and lungs. The major cardiovascular diseases include heart attacks, strokes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart failure and atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
CholesterolCholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and found in animal products such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry and butter. Cholesterol is needed to make some hormones, build cell walls, and create bile salts that help to digest fat. Actually, the liver produces about 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol each day, enough cholesterol so that, if you consume no cholesterol at all, you would be okay.
Because cholesterol can’t dissolve in your blood, it has to combine with certain proteins. These proteins act like trucks, picking up the cholesterol and transporting it to different parts of the body. When this happens, the cholesterol and protein form a lipoprotein together. The two most known types of lipoproteins are (good) low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). Too much bad cholesterol in the body is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid, it is an essential building block of the brain, nerve and retina. DHA is especially important for pregnant women and infants. DHA is usually associated with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and can be synthesized in small quantities from omega 3 fatty acids.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an important nutrient and is needed to maintain healthy functioning of the brain, nerves and retina. EPA is obtained from the diet by eating oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout and sardines and various types of edible seaweed. It is also found in breast milk and some fortified products, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to EPA. EPA is also a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA belongs to the family of omega 3 fatty acids.
EmulsifierAn emulsifier keeps two liquids mixed together such as water and oil in margarines, mayonnaise, ice cream and salad dressings. Emulsifiers have two distinct ends. One end likes to be in water and the other end likes to be in oil. This means that they will coat the surface of oil droplets in an oil-in-water emulsion and effectively ‘insulate’ the oil droplets from the water. It keeps them evenly dispersed throughout the emulsion and stops them from clumping together to form their own, separate layer. Lecithin (naturally present in egg yolk) is an emulsifier commonly used in foods.
EmulsionIf you add oil to water, the oil floats on the surface of the water. Then if you shake the two together, tiny droplets of one liquid spread through the other liquid, forming a mixture called an emulsion. In an emulsion, the oil and water gradually separate out again. Tiny droplets join together until eventually the oil is floating on the water again. To stop the two liquids separating, we need a substance called an emulsifier.
Essential fatEssential fats, or essential fatty acids, are the fats that cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by food in order to prevent deficiency. Two essential fatty acids are: Linoleic acid (LA) and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA belongs to the family of omega 3 fatty acids and LA to the family of omega 6 fatty acids.
FatFats are an important part of the diet and are needed for your body to function properly. They form the structure of cell membranes, and are the building blocks for many important compounds such as hormones. Fats also transport fat-soluble vitamins; provide the body with insulation and form a protective layer around organs. They are a structural component of the brain and nervous system and provide a reserve supply of energy in the form of adipose tissue (body fat). Excess amounts of body fat and limited exercise define overweight.
Fat comes in multiple forms but all are not made equal. To really understand the role of different types of fat in our body, we need to start by talking about fatty acids.
Fat rearrangementFat rearrangement is the process of reorganizing fatty acids in a fat molecule. The fatty acids themselves remain unchanged but the overall fat molecule is altered resulting in the fat having different melting properties. By combining different fats and oils and by varying processing conditions, it is possible to produce margarine with a nutritionally improved fatty acid profile and correct melting properties and stability.
Fat rearrangement is one of the best answers to creating fat and oil ingredients without trans fat.
Fatty acidFatty acids are the building blocks of fat molecules. The type of fatty acids in a fat molecule controls many different things about the fat, including how it looks, whether it is a solid or a liquid at room temperature and how healthy it is for your body. Many of these characteristics have to do with whether a fat is “saturated” or “unsaturated.”
Some types of fatty acids are essential nutrients. Essential fatty acids must be consumed from the diet for the body to function properly.
Fat-soluble vitaminVitamins are nutrients that cannot be produced in the body, but are essential for normal functioning of the body and must be obtained from the diet.
There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that only fat can carry or that can only be conveyed by fats. These are vitamin A, D, E and K.
FractionationFractionation is a process that can make oil more solid, thicker and raise its melting point. The main oil that is fractionated worldwide is palm oil.
Hot oil is slowly cooled until part of the oil solidifies, and can be filtered out. This solid fraction is needed to make margarine from vegetable oils.
When fractionation is combined with fat rearrangement, margarines with lower levels of trans fat (TFA) can be made.
HDL (good) cholesterolHigh density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it transports cholesterol from the bloodstream and blood vessel walls to the liver for disposal. A healthy level of HDL cholesterol may protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Full HydrogenationHydrogenation, or hardening is a process to make oils become solid at room temperature. The process is controlled, however, so that varying consistencies of hydrogenated fats can be produced. In former times, partial hydrogenation of oils has been used to make margarine from vegetable oils.Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats. When oil is fully hydrogenated, almost no trans fats remain.
LDL (bad) cholesterolLow-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol carries cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body, e.g. your blood vessel walls. LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol. The amount of cholesterol deposited can clog up your blood vessels and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.
Linoleic acidThe word “linoleic” comes from the Greek word linon (flax). Oleic means “relating to” or “derived from”. The body needs linoleic acid but cannot synthesize it. Therefore it has to be provided by the diet. An adequate intake of linoleic acid helps to keep our heart and blood vessels healthy by maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. Primary sources are vegetable oils, including sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.
Linoleic acid is an omega 6 fatty acids.
MargarineMargarine has been around for roughly 150 years. It is made with vegetable oils – most commonly rapeseed (or canola), soybean, sunflower and some tropical oils (mostly palm and coconut oils). It’s a quick and tasty addition to toasts, hot biscuits and fresh muffins. Melted margarine is a yummy and nutritious topping on your steamy vegetables, pasta or freshly popped popcorn. You can also use it for frying, roasting, sautéing, and grilling or as an ingredient for pastries and cookies.
Monounsaturated fat (MUFA)This is a type of unsaturated fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Omega 3 fatty acidWhen it comes to fat, there’s one type you don’t want to cut back on: omega 3 fatty acids. Two important ones – EPA and DHA – are primarily found in certain fish. ALA, another omega 3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. When eaten in moderation and in place of the saturated fats found in meats and dairy products, omega 3 fatty acids can help to maintain normal cholesterol levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids.
Omega 6 fatty acidOmega 6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. When eaten in moderation and in place of the saturated fats found in meats and dairy products, omega 6 fatty acids can help to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Omega 6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids and mostly come as linoleic acid.
Partial hydrogenation (partial hardening)Hydrogenation, or hardening is a process to make oils become solid at room temperature. The process is controlled, however, so that varying consistencies of hydrogenated fats can be produced. In former times, partial hydrogenation of oils has been used to make margarine from vegetable oils.
Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA)This is a type of unsaturated fat found mostly in oily fish, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and linseed oil. Studies show that replacing unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
The two polyunsaturated fatty acids essential for health are linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3 fatty acid).
Saturated fat (SFA)Saturated fat or saturated fatty acids, primarily come from animal products such as high fat meat, full fat dairy products, butter and tropical fats like coconut and palm oils. In general, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. It is advised to moderate the intake of saturated fatty acids. Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Trans fat (TFA)Trans fat, or trans fatty acids, can be found in meat, dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle and sheep) and foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like some baked goods (cookies, crackers, cakes, muffin, pizza dough), snacks (chips, candy) and fried foods (doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken).
Many people think of margarine when they picture trans fats. However, today, the majority of margarines in Western Europe have only traces of trans fatty acids.
Trans fatty acids increase levels of cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. So their consumption should be reduced as much as possible.
Unsaturated fatUnsaturated fats, or unsaturated fatty acids, are considered the ‘healthy’ fats and are encouraged as part of a healthy diet. Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and are therefore know to us as oils. Vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed, olive, soybean, and corn are sources of unsaturated fatty acids, just like products made of these oils like margarines and mayonnaises. Other sources include nuts, seeds and oily fish.
There are two main forms of unsaturated fat – monounsaturated fat.
Vitamin AThis vitamin helps for normal night vision and to see in colour. In addition, it is important to maintain a healthy skin and helps your to maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin A can be found in liver, orange fruits and vegetables (like carrots, papaya, pumpkin), dark green leafy vegetables (like kale and spinach) and margarine.
Vitamin DVitamin D helps your body absorb the amount of calcium it needs. This way, it helps maintaining strong bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, or you can get it from the foods you eat. Foods containing vitamin D include dairy, fish, egg yolks, liver and margarine.
Vitamin EEverybody needs vitamin E. This vitamin protects your cells and tissues from oxidative damage. Foods containing vitamin E include whole grains, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils (like sunflower, canola, and olive), margarine, egg yolks, nuts and seeds.