OPTIM'OILS: Valorisation of micro-nutrients during processing of edible vegetable oils

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Valorisation of healthy lipidic micro-nutrients by optimising food processing of edible oils and fats

Optimoils logo.png
Project acronym: OPTIMOIL’S
Duration: Sept. 2006 - Feb 2010
Funded by: DG Research (FP6)
Website: http://www.optimoils.com


Project name: Valorisation of healthy lipidic micro-nutrients by optimising food processing of edible oils and fats

Contacts: Jean David LEAO (jd.leao@iterg.com)


1. Context and problematic

OPTIM'OILS aims a better knowledge & control of active micro-nutrients content in edible oils, in order to contribute to improving the nutritional status of citizen. Based on nutritional studies, it is proposed to demonstrate that lipidic micronutrients present in natural & synergistic forms in oleaginous seeds have a physiological interest in nutritional amounts, for prevention of Cardio Vascular Risk (CVR). Validation will be performed through production of optimized sunflower, rapeseed & soybean oils, which will be validated at a sensory, quality, stability & safety levels.

Areas of interest

- Oil processing: Traditional oil processing will be optimized at seeds crushing & refining levels, in order to increase micronutrients pool, either by optimizing unit operations parameters, or modifying process stages; or by valorizing by-products in-situ. Integrated membrane process will be developed to treat & valorize effluents, residues & by-products from production of oils.

- Food product development: Results of nutritional studies and assessment of impact CVD risk could be use to market new “healthy oil”. Moreover, OPTIM’OILS proposes a Food Reverse Engineering, including impact study of storage & some industrial/culinary food processes on active micronutrients level in new oils: oxidation, crystallisation, emulsion, heating.

- Analytical Development: Improvement and development of analysis & measuring methods will be necessary for defining micronutrient potential in seeds, crude & refined oils & fatty by/co-products.

- Environmental aspect: OPTIM'OILS integrates an environmental dimension with an objective to minimize by-products generated in oil mill & refining plants & improve waste/effluent treatment & valorization.


2. Results and Applications

The crushing and refining conditions are optimized for rapeseed, sunflower and soybean oils to get and keep significant higher levels of micronutrients compared with the levels in the classical totally refined oils (+ 20 % to + 100 %).

• for rapeseed oil : the crude rapeseed optim’oil, is obtained by dehulling + cooking + pressure and the final rapeseed optim’oil is just soft deodorized at 170°c.

• for sunflower oil : the process chosen by lesieur cristal is flaking + cooking + pressure and then dewaxing + soft-deodorization to obtain the final optimised sunflower oil.

• for soyabean oil : after classical crushing, ets abdelmoula proposed to keep a water degumming to eliminate the lecithin (mucilage) before a soft deodorization.

The most innovative oily micronutrients studied in the project are the phenolic compounds and the Co-Enzyme Q10 or ubiquinone.

Following a correct selection and storage of the raw material (seeds), the optim’oils are in conformity with the European Regulation and Codex Alimentarius for their quality parameters (colour, acidity, oxidative level) and for the safety specifications. They can be used in different food applications: cooking, pan frying, sauces, margarines...

A study on animal model has demonstrated a positive effect of different sunflower, soybean and rapeseed optim’oils richer in micronutrients, on different biomarkers of the oxidative stress. A long term clinical study showed that a rapeseed optim’oil enriched with antioxidants can protect human lipids from peroxidation and therefore seems to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


3. Novelties, benefits and added value

For all the 3 optimised processes, we concluded that some steps of classical crushing and refining can be suppressed; consequently the cost of production is reduced. In parallel, the quantity of by-products and co-products is also reduced. On the other hand, the sensorial quality of the sunflower and soybean optimoils is good for industrials and acceptable for consumers (color, limpidity, odor, taste), but the taste of the rapeseed optim’oil keep strong.


The levels of micronutrients are significantly higher in optim’oils compared with commercial refined oils or even virgin or enriched oils.

The process of the optim’oils is more in respect of environment with a reduction of the by-products generation and of the energy consumption. In parallel, an innovative approach for the valorization of the deodistillate obtained as the unique by-product during the deodorization step, is proposed. It involves an “in-situ” enzymatic esterification of the free sterols with the free fatty acids, coupled with a nano filtration, to obtain a fraction rich in steryl esters (patented process by one of project partner).

For phenolic compounds and the Co-Enzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, a new analytical method is now available for oils, seeds and by-products. The phenolic compounds are good antioxidants in oils, in synergistic action with tocopherols and are able to protect poly-unsaturated fatty acids during storage and culinary applications.

First interesting results from nutritional studies must be validated in further projects and the future marketing, labelling and regulation status of the optim’oils must be more studied. The optim’oils can be defined as natural and native oils. The price of the optim’oils should be intermediate between the price of virgin oils and the price of refined oils.


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