Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fatty acid composition of soybean oil

Soybean is well known as the raw material for the production of traditional food in Indonesia, such as tempeh and tofu, while in the USA it is widely used to produce oil, because the fat content is quite high at 14-23%, and an average of 19%. Therefore, soybean oil has long been known as a frying medium which is commonly used in the United States and European countries. But in Asian countries, especially Southeast Asia, palm and coconut oil is more commonly used for frying because of the availability of its raw materials that is abundant in that region. The debate regarding the impact of the fatty acid content of the three types of frying medium on health is rising. Therefore, the fatty acid composition of soybean oil and the consequence should be understood first.
Oil content and composition in soybean are influenced by varieties, climate, and growing conditions. Crude fat content indicate the presence of triglycerides 90-95%, while the rest is phosphatides, free fatty acids, sterols, and tocopherols. Its oil content is relatively lower than other types of beans, but higher than the cereals. High protein levels lead to its common usage as protein source instead of oil sources in some countries.
Fatty acid composition of soybean oil is rich in essential fat (linoleat/omega-3 and linolenat/omega-6) that is needed by human body and is claimed to prevent atherosclerosis. In more detail, unsaturated fat content is about 85%, consisting of oleic (11-60%), linoleic (15-64%), linolenic (1-12), and arachidonat (1.5%), while its saturated fat is about 15%, consisting of palmitic (7-10%), stearic (2-5%), and others (<1 data-blogger-escaped-font="">.2%). Nevertheless, it will be damaged during heating, for example when it is used for frying as linoleic and linolenic are more sensitive to heat than oleic. It also must go through the process of hydrogenation in order to increase the stability. This makes oil hydrogenation produces trans fat which is also bad for the heart. Several efforts have been done, such as natural pollination research by the team of researchers from the University of Missouri and rotation with corn by Nacer Bellaloui et.al. (2010) to increase the oleic in fatty acid composition of soybean oil, because it is more stable to heat so it does not require hydrogenation.
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