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 By: María del Pilar Noriega E., PhD, R&D and Innovation Director


Due to their fat composition, high oleic vegetable oils are an attractive option for various uses, including new applications. The benefits of these high oleic oils are related to the fact that they contain healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and have better heat tolerance and stability than conventional oils. There are distinct types of high oleic oils in the global market, especially in North America and Europe, includingg canola, soybean, sunflower, and olive. High demand for these types of oils has supported the emerging high oleic palm oil (HOPO) market.

The HO palm is an interspecific hybrid named (OxG), i.e., Elaeis Oleifera x Elaeis Guineensis, grown in Colombia andEcuador (Source: Fedepalma, 2021). Daabon planted these (OxG) hybrids at our C.I. Tequendama and Palmatra plantations. The planted area distribution of the different hybrid varieties in Palmatra is shown in Figure 1. Currently, the HO palm oils are not segregated by varieties.

Figure 1: Area distribution of the main hybrid varieties (Data Source: Palmatra)

The (OxG) hybrid has a different profile of fatty acids as shown graphically in Figure 2.

We have selected three major fatty acids-- palmitic (blue), oleic (red), and linoleic (yellow) acids for comparison purposes: OxG versus the standard Guineensis palm oil and its fractions (olein and stearin).

Figure 2: Different fatty acids profile of palm oils and fractions (Data Source: CI Tequendama)

Palmitic acid is a saturated long-chain fatty acid (SAFA) found in palm oil and palm kernel oil (PKO), as well as in milk, dairy products, and meat. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) found in olive oil and other animal and vegetable oils. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA reported that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease. [(2018) https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/health-claim-notification-substitution-saturated-fat-diet-unsaturated-fatty-acids-and-reduced-risk].

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) essential for the synthesis of hormones responsible for the regulation of important physiological processes. [https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/linolenic-acid]

Figure 2 shows the higher content of oleic fatty acid and the reduction in palmitic fatty acid of HO palm oils, specifically Crude Palm Oil (CPO), refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD) palm oil, and olein. The high oleic CPO is evidencing a 51% oleic acid content, a 33% palmitic content and a 12% linoleic content. The high oleic RBD is showing a 50% oleic acid content, a 36% palmitic content and a 10% linoleic content, and the high oleic olein exhibits similar fatty acid contents and distribution. These are well-balanced fatty acid profiles that are appealing in the food industry because of their properties and health benefits.

HO palm oils (CPO and RBD) show more liquidity at room temperature than the standard Guineensis palm oil due to the solid fat content (SFC) profile, which is lower in solid fats (according to measurements conducted at C.I. Tequendama) Figure 3.

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Figure 3: SFC of CPO Palm Oils (left) and SFC of RBD Palm Oils (right), (CI Tequendama)

The ideal uses of high oleic palm oil and its olein in foods are low solid content applications at lower temperatures, deep frying, dressings, CPO for special nutritional food markets (i.e., rich in tocopherols, carotenes, squalene), and more applications, such as, vitamin E supplementation, oxygen scavengers, animal feed, medical soaps, among others.

Acknowledgements: Mag. Ana Martinez, Mag. Luis Caicedo, and Chem. Eng. Heidi Teran are gratefully acknowledged.