1. What are Fats and Oils?

Scientifically, the term Fats is defined as a type of Triglycerides formed from the chemical combination of Fatty Acid with Glycerol.
Fatty Acids – carboxylic acids R-COOH of high molecular weight, in which the alkyl group R may be either saturated or unsaturated
Glycerol – chemical name for a type of alcohol

  • In layman’s terms, Oils usually refers to the portion of Fats that is liquid at room temperature, while Fats refers to the portion of Fats that is either solid or semi-solid at room temperature.
  • Insoluble in water but soluble in most organic solvents.
  • Principal and essential component of the diet, like protein and carbohydrate.
  • Most concentrated source of energy in our body.
  • Supply about 9 kcal/ g, as compared with about 4 kcal/ g from protein and carbohydrates.
  • Responsible for transporting “fat-soluble” vitamins.
  • Improves the texture and eating characteristics of food products.

2. What is the Origin of Fats & Oils?

Fats can originate from Animal (Body fat or Milk fat) or Vegetable/Plant (Fruit or Seeds).
Examples of Animal Fats include Lards, Tallow, Milk Fat and Fish Oil.
Examples of Vegetable Fats include Palm oil, Sunflower, Soybean, Canola, Corn, Peanut, Coconut, Olive, Cottonseed, Palm Kernel, Sesame, etc.

3. What are Saturated and Unsaturated Fats?

Saturated – When there are single-bonds/no double bonds present in the alkyl group of the Triglycerides (Example. C18:0)
Unsaturated – When there are only one double or more than one double bond present in the alkyl group of the Triglycerides. It can be further sub-divided into:
(1) Mono-unsaturated (Example. C18:1);
(2) Poly-unsaturated (Example. C18:2 & C18:3)

4. What is Saturated Fat?

  • Mainly found in foods of animal origin and dairy products, eg. red meat, tallow, lard, butter, cheese, etc.
  • Also found in some vegetable foods, eg. cocoa butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, hydrogenated vegetable oils, etc.
  • Usually solid at room temperature.
  • Saturated Fatty Acids tend to raise blood cholesterol levels, which may cause cholesterol to be deposited in the coronary arteries, thus causing blood clots and lead to heart attack or stroke.

5. What is Mono unsaturated Fat?

  • Found primarily in plant but also found in animals.
  • Olive and canola oil are common examples of fats high in monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Usually liquid at room temperature but will turn into solid at refrigerator temperatures.
  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids are known to lower LDL-cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol) in the blood but HDL-cholesterol (Good Cholesterol) remains unchanged.
  • Scientists noted that people in Mediterranean countries suffer a much lower incidence of heart disease and stroke despite their high-fat diets. It has been theorized that the fat in their diets which is primarily olive oil (a monounsaturated fat) may be the reason for their cardiovascular health.

6. What is Poly unsaturated Fat?

  • Found mostly in plants, eg., sunflower, corn, soya bean, etc
  • Also can be found in some fish oils.
  • Usually liquid at room temperature and in the refrigerator.
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids may lower total blood cholesterol level (lower both LDL & HDL)
  • Large amounts of Polyunsaturated fats also have a tendency to reduce HDL (Good Cholesterol)

7. What are the different composition of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids found in edible fats and oils?

All fats and oils contain different proportions of Saturated and Unsaturated Fats.
Table below shows the percentage of fatty acid in different fats and oils:

Fatty Acid Composition % (wt)
Fats and Oils Saturated (SFA) Monounsaturated (MUFA) Polyunsaturated(PUFA)
Beef Tallow 52 44 4
Butter Fat 66 30 4
Canola 6 58 36
Cocoa 59 39 2
Coconut 92 6 2
Corn 13 25 62
Cottonseed 28 22 50
Groundnut 20 50 30
Lard 41 47 12
Mustard 6 67 27
Olive 14 77 9
Palm 51 39 10
Palm Kernel 86 12 2
Rice Bran 18 45 37
Safflower 10 15 75
Sesame 14 42 45
Sockeye salmon 20 55 25
Soyabean 15 24 60
Sunflower 12 21 67

8. Mention few examples of individual fatty acids found in edible fats and oils?

Table below shows a few examples of Fatty Acids to give you some idea of the terminology.

Carbon Chain Fatty Acid Source
C 4:0 Butyric Butterfat
C 6:0 Caproic Butterfat
C 8:0 Caprylic Coconut oil
C 10:0 Carpric Coconut oil, Butter fat (Cow)
C 12:0 Lauric Coconut oil (45-53), Babassu oil (40-55), Palm kernel oil (45-55)
C 14:0 Myristic Palm kernel oil (14-18)
C 16:0 Palmitic Palm oil (39-48), Palm olein (38-44), Palm stearin (48-74)
C 16:1 Palmitoleic Animal fats
C 18:0 Stearic Animal & vegetable fats, Cocoa butter
C 18:1 Oleic Olive oil, Peanut oil (35-69), Canola oil (51-70), Palm olein (40-46), High oleic Safflower oil (70-84), Sesameseed oil (36-42), High oleic Sunflower oil (75-91)
C 18:2 Linoleic Corn (Maize) oil (34-66), Cottonseed oil (47-58), Grapeseed oil (58-78), Safflower oil (68-83), Sesameseed oil (41-48), Soybean oil (48-59), Sunflower oil (48-74)
C 18:3 ALA (a-Linolenic) Linseed (flaxseed) oil
C 18:3 GLA (?-Linolenic) Borage oil
C 20:0 Stearic Peanut (groundnut) oil, Fish oil
C 20:1 Gadoleic Fish oil
C 20:4 AA (Arachidonic) Liver fats
C 20:5 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic) Fish oil
C 22:0 Behenic Rapeseed (Mustard, Canola-low erucic rapeseed) oil
C 22:1 Erucic Rapeseed oil (2-60), Mustard oil (22-50),
C 22:6 DHA (Docosanoic) Fish oil

9. What is Trans Fat?

  • Created when vegetable oils are hardened by a chemical process called hydrogenation.
  • Mostly found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, deep-fried chips & most commercial baked goods.
  • Usually solid or semisolid at ambient temperature.
  • Trans Fatty Acids increase LDL-cholesterol and lowers the HDL cholesterol.
  • According to Harvard researchers, gram-for-gram, Trans fats have a larger impact on heart health than Saturated fats.

10. What is Cholesterol?

This is a fatty substance belonging to the family of sterols and found mostly in animal tissues. Cholesterol circulates in our blood and is an essential component of cell membranes some hormones . Most of it is made by the liver but some of it is taken up from the foods we eat. Animal fats contain about 0.1- 0.3% cholesterol while vegetable fats only have a trace at about 0.0003%.

Note: All vegetable oils are cholesterol free.

11. What is the level of blood cholesterol required and recommends by medical authorities?

Medical authorities in EU recommend a desirable blood cholesterol level of 5 milli moles/L (195 mg/dL). When too much is present and especially oxidised cholesterol which is sticky, it tends to adhere to the artery walls and cause blockages, often leading to heart attacks and strokes.

12. How many type of cholesterol found in our body and what is the role of fats and oils?

There are two main types of cholesterol, HDL-C which is good and LDL-C, accounting for the greatest part, which is bad. Broadly speaking, saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol levels, while monounsaturated fats are neutral and polyunsaturated ones reduce it.

13. What is LDL cholesterol?

Low-density lipoprotein is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. If too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries feeding the heart and brain. Together with other substances it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. A clot (thrombus) that forms near this plaque can block the blood flow to part of the heart muscle and cause a heart attack. If a clot blocks the blood flow to part of the brain, a stroke results. A high level of LDL cholesterol (160 mg/dL and above) reflects an increased risk of heart disease. If you have heart disease, your LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL and your doctor may even set your goal to be less than 70 mg/dL. That’s why LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol. Lower levels of LDL cholesterol reflect a lower risk of heart disease.

14. What is HDL cholesterol?

About one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL. Medical experts think HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. Some experts believe HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaques and thus slows their growth. HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol because a high HDL level seems to protect against heart attack. The opposite is also true: a low HDL level (less than 40 mg/dL in men; less than 50 mg/dL in women) indicates a greater risk. A low HDL cholesterol level also may raise stroke risk.

15. How cholesterol is essential for us?

Cholesterol is essential for:

  • Formation and maintenance of cell membranes (helps the cell to resist changes in temperature and protects and insulates nerve fibers)
  • Formation of sex hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, etc.)
  • Production of bile salts, which help to digest food
  • Conversion into vitamin D in the skin when exposed to sunlight.

16.   What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are essential to ensure that the metabolic processes in the body function at their optimum.

17. What is the difference between vitamin D2 and D3?

D-2 (ergocalciferol) is derived from yeast, while D-3 (cholecalciferol) is derived from lanolin (from sheep) or fish. D-2 and D-3 are both used to fortify milk and other dairy products. Some D-3 vitamin supplements are made with fish oil.

18.   What are Minerals?

Calcium and phosphorus   are important for strong bones and teeth and can be found in dairy products. Iron is important for blood formation and can be found in meat, fish and poultry. Magnesium   is important for the heart function. Products like milk, whole grains, beans and nuts are good sources of minerals.

19. What is Iron?

Iron is a critical mineral needed in small amounts by our body (trace) to form hemoglobin in our blood, which transports oxygen throughout our body. Iron is also needed for normal brain functions – to synthesize neurotransmitters as well as to speed up the transmission of nerve signals to the brain.

20.   What are Carbohydrates?

Important source of energy for the body, especially for brain and muscles. Rice, noodles, bread, cereals and potatoes are good sources of Carbohydrates.

21. What is Dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber is defined as the part of plant foods that cannot be digested. There are different types of fiber, which fall into two broad categories: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. As both types of fibres are important for good health, dietitians recommend that we eat both. The easiest way to do so is to add a variety of fibre-rich foods in our daily diet.

22.   What is Protein?

Essential for growth and development, protein helps to build and repair body tissues. Ideally from milk, meat and eggs. The recommended daily Protein intake for children between 7-12 years old is 32g-46g a day.

23. What are essential fatty acids?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), as the name implies, are a group of fatty acids essential for good health. They cannot be synthesized by the body but have to be obtained from our diet.

24. What are enzymes?

They are proteins added to foods as modifiers. They can be animal, vegetable, bacterial, or fungal. Those used in cheese-making are often animal- derived, others are used in bread making and are often fungal. Examples of enzymes are: lactase (fungal), lipase (animal, fungal), papain (vegetable), pectinase (fruit), protease (animal, vegetable, bacterial, or fungal), rennet (animal), and trypsin (animal).

25. What about those ingredients that sounds like they are from milk, such as lactic acid, lactose, and lactate?

If it’s lactate or lactic acid, it’s not from dairy (exception – sterol lactate due to the stearic acid). “Lac” ingredients are usually produced by a fermentation process using cornstarch or beet sugar. Lactose is always from dairy. Most ingredients made with calcium are vegan (i.e. calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate). The exceptions are calcium caseinate and calcium stearate.

26. Does “lecithin” come from beans, such as soybeans, or is it from an animal source?

Lecithin is found in egg yolks, the tissues and organs of many animals, and some vegetables such as soybeans, peanuts, and corn. Lecithin is commonly used in foods that are high in fats and oils in order to make dissimilar substances, such as oil and water, blend and/or stay blended. We list it as typically vegetarian. Archer Daniels Midland Co., a major manufacturer of lecithin, extracts it from soybeans. Soy is the standard for lecithin in the food industry these days.

27. How is gelatin made from?

Gelatin is made from the bones, skins, hoofs, and tendons of cows, fish and other animals. It is animal protein used especially for its thickening and gelling properties. It is a non-vegetarian product. It is often used in candies and Jellies.

28. What is dextrose and maltodextrin?

Dextrose has a vegetable source, but may be processed through a bone char filter. It is a simple sugar, which functions as a sweetener in foods and drinks.

Maltodextrin has a vegetable source. It is a modified food starch, which may be used to give body to foods.

29. What is caramel color?

Carmel color is a common food coloring and flavoring that is usually derived from corn. It is derived from vegetable sources, and is considered vegan. It is used in soft drinks, baked goods, candy, ice cream, and meats to impart a brown color, and also as a flavoring.

30. What is whey?

The watery material that remains after most of the protein and fat has been removed from milk during the cheese-making process. It is also the liquid that rises to the top of yogurt. It is typically vegetarian.

31. What is Honey?

A.   Honey is produced by honeybees, which are vegetarian insects. Honeybees eat pollen to obtain protein, fat, and vitamins, and they make honey from the nectar of flowers for an energy source. Bees reduce the water content of the nectar both by fanning it with their wings and by manipulating the liquid in their mouths. Bees create honey through the use of their digestive enzyme, invertase. This enzyme converts the sucrose of the gathered nectar into equal parts of the sugars glucose and fructose in the bee’s honey stomach.

32.   What is UHT process?

The basis of UHT (Ultra-high temperature) process is to sterilize the product from harmful pathogenic and product spoilage microorganisms before aseptically filled into packets.

33. How UHT process is achieved?

The product is processed using temperatures exceeding 135º C in a continuous flow operation for a short holding period of 2 – 5 seconds.

34. Is the finished product the same after UHT treatment?

The short holding period is sufficient enough to eliminate the harmful microorganism but does not “overcook” the product. It will not alter the product’s texture or its original taste and is able to maintain most of its nutrients. This also known as “Commercial Sterilization”.

35. How long the UHT treated product are kept on shelves?

The product has a long shelf life of up to 16 months from production date.

36. How UHT treated product stay longer for periods?

The sterilized product is filled into pre-sterilized packages in an aseptic environment and ultrasonically sealed ensuring zero contact with the external environment. Therefore, there is also no contamination from outside allowing the product to stay fresh for a long period.

37. Are any preservatives used in UHT treated products?

No preservatives are required when the product is processed via UHT & Aseptic packing process.

38.   What is Pasteurization process?

Pasteurization is the process of heating liquids for the purpose of destroying bacteria, protozoa, molds, and yeasts. The process was named after its creator, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur.

39. What is Brix?

Brix (symbol °Bx) is a measurement of the dissolved sugar-to-water mass ratio of a liquid. It is measured easily with a refractometer.

40.   What are “E” numbers?

There are different words for different food ingredients across the world. In Europe, some food ingredients are noted as “E” numbers.

More and more will be available soon on healthy food e-book…

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