Oils and Fats News October 2008


Honour for Dr Amy Richards- an Invited Speaker at the Functional Foods Conference-we wish her our congratulations

Dr Amy Richards is tackling one of the big challenges for the food industry – working out how to replace bad fats with good fats to develop healthier food products.

And with Australia surpassing all other countries with respect to obesity levels, Dr Richards’ research into fats and oils has never been so important.

The CSIRO postdoctoral fellow based at Food Science Australia is one of six young Victorian scientists to win a prestigious 2008 Victoria Fellowship. She received the Fellowship on Wednesday 13 August at a gala function at Government House from the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser, AC.

The Victoria Fellowships, worth $18,000 each, were first awarded by the Victorian Government in 1998 to recognise young researchers with leadership potential and to enhance their future careers, while developing new ideas that could offer commercial benefit to Victoria.

She will use the Fellowship to travel to the Unilever Research and Development Centre in the Netherlands to learn new techniques that will help the Victorian food industry understand the physical properties of alternative fats.

She will also visit the USA to present her research at the American Oil Chemist Society meeting.

“Consumer awareness of the need to use healthier and alternative fats and oil blends is at an all time high in Australia,” says Dr Richards.

“They are also, understandably, demanding healthier food that tastes good and is convenient.”

“For the food industry, providing a high quality food product in terms of taste, texture and shelf life, while at the same time altering the fat content, is often a complicated research and development challenge,” she said.

“Increasing good polyunsaturated fats, like the omega-3s, is very difficult because of their tendency to oxidise and produce off-flavours and smells,” she added.

Dr Richards said she hoped her research would contribute directly to the development of new food products in Victoria, as well as tie in with current initiatives such as the traffic light food labeling system within the Go for your Life program targeting Australian children.

Dr Richards studied her Bachelor of Applied Science at RMIT and her postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne. She is a member of the American Oil Chemist Society, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and the Dairy Industry Association of Australia. She lives in Hillside.

Attention performance in children

The effect of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) fed as phosphatidylserines for three months has been compared with the same acids fed as triacylglycerols and with a placebo fed to children suffering from attention disorders. Test of Variables of Attention increased with both EPA/DHA diets but not with the placebo. The phospholipid preparation had a more positive effect than the triacylglycerol sample indicating the importance of the chemical and physical structure of effective bio-actives. One can say that the phospholipid fraction more resembles the nature of fish lipids.

This is taken from a recent publication entitled “Correlation between changes in blood fatty acid composition and visual sustained attention performance in children with inattention: effect of dietary n–3 fatty acids containing phospholipids”

AM.J. Clin.Nutr. (2008), 87, 1170-1180

Lipidomics gets a boost !

Europe-wide investment in lipid research will help tackle disease, says new report

Leading scientists today called for Europe to invest more funds into the study of lipids–the ‘fatty’ molecules that play a crucial role in the function of human cells and which are implicated in a range of diseases from obesity and diabetes to Alzheimer’s.

Common lipids such as cholesterol are known to play an important part in the normal functioning of cells and tissues, but human cells contain thousands of different lipids that are also vital for functions that include storing energy, maintaining the structure of the cell, and sending biochemical signals. Scientists are discovering that if the biochemical pathways that regulate the metabolism and transport of these lipids become disturbed, this can result in disease.

A report* published today by the European Science Foundation (ESF) urges greater cooperation among researchers and more investment in the field of “lipidomics”–the term given to the identification and analysis of the full complement of lipids in cells, tissues, and body fluids, together with associated molecular structures such as enzymes and genes. The document is the output of a science policy activity led by the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC), the medical section within ESF.

The ESF science policy briefing document, drawn up by an international panel of experts led by Professor Gerrit van Meer of Utrecht University in The Netherlands and Professor Friedrich Spener of the University of Graz in Austria, says that the study of lipids has been largely neglected because until recently technology did not exist to analyze this complex class of molecules comprehensively. However, the application of an analytical technique called mass spectrometry now allows large numbers of lipids to be analyzed rapidly. “This remarkable technological breakthrough will make it possible to better understand the cellular machineries that are responsible for producing and storing energy in cells, for the transport across and between cell membranes and for the signaling in and out of cells to name but a few examples,” the report states.

A concerted research effort in lipidomics would help shed light on conditions ranging from obesity and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s, the report says, while pointing out that the number of European researchers with expertise in lipidomics is low and that increased funding is needed to help Europe to catch up with the level of research in countries such as Japan and the United States.

The science policy briefing makes several key recommendations that would boost lipidomics research in Europe:

Investment in research programs aimed at training biomedical scientists in lipid-related fields

Investment in further development of technologies for studying lipids, while establishing and maintaining strong links between technology developers and researchers

Development of a strong, coordinated and interdisciplinary research effort across Europe to understand lipid function and the roles of lipids in health and disease

Integration of European lipid databases and the facilitation of their communication with other databases worldwide. This would allow the holistic interpretation of lipid data and provide a greater understanding of the role of lipids in health and disease.

NB. we have an update on Lipidomics by Rufus Turner at the conference in November.

Chocolates with omega-3

Ocean Nutrition Canada have announced that Maramor chocolates have been launched  in the USA with their MEG-3 ingredient.

The new product which is dark chocolate contains 315 mg. of total long chain omega-3 from fish oil in a single serve. Whatever next?

Weight management and satiety utilizing lipids

According to the leading journal for functional foods business, New nutrition Business two lipid products are now hitting the news. Fabuless, an emulsion based on oat and palm lipids is becoming incorporated into commercially successful yoghurts and conjugated linoleic acid is fast becoming a successful ingredient.

There will be presentations on the these lipids plus the science of satiety and weight management at the conference.

The global market for weight management products is estimated to be more than €7bn

Oxidation of DHA is dependent on triacylglycerol position

C.Wiejesundera , C.S.I.R.O. and Food Science Australia, another speaker at the conference in November has just published a very interesting paper in J.A.O.C.S, showing that the position of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the triacylglycerol molecule, greatly affects stability under temperature controlled conditions.

J.Am.Oil Chem.Soc. (2008), 75, 543-548

Mid-Winter dinner and AGM

30 members and guests had a great evening at the Royal New Zealand Yacht squadron and as usual after plying members with NZ wines, the current committee was re-elected.


Laurence Eyres

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