Oils & Fats News August 2007

AGM and Book launch

This is now booked for Sunday lunchtime, August 5th at Villa Maria winery in Mangere. A great way to fill in those Winter Sunday lunchtimes, so come along and enjoy good wine and food and purchase the book at vastly reduced prices. The book is entitled “Handbook of Australasian Edible Oils”. (Book tickets off the website. (See advert in the journal.)

Olive oil processing course

The first Olives New Zealand Processors Course was held on 29 & 30 June and 1 July at Simunovich Olive Estate south of Auckland with delegates describing it as “one of the best things to happen to the New Zealand olive industry”.

The course was very generously sponsored by Gruppo Pieralisi in Italy who are the largest manufacturer of olive oil presses in the world. Pieralisi supply about 65% of all olive processing plants in the world.

Pieralisi flew two senior representatives from Italy and one from Australia to present the course.

Their representative from Australia who also works for one of the largest olive oil companies in Australia was without doubt the most interesting, informative and professional olive industry person to come to New Zealand.  Not only did he present extremely well over the 3 days of the course but he also had no hesitation to share with us details of his company – ranging from level of production, harvesting techniques, processing techniques and results to how they get the absolute optimum production from their processing plant with the cost implications and resulting improvement in returns to the growers.  There was no information that he was not prepared to share with us – a breath of fresh air that illustrated that an industry such as ours has nothing to lose by sharing information with members throughout the industry. The Industry is now setting a strategic goal of growing to $100M over the next decade.

Branka Simunovich from Simunovich Olive Estate in Bombay showed us exceptional hospitality with a superb level of catering and provision of the very best facilities. The restaurant is to be highly recommended.(Bracu)

Consuming a Mediterranean-style diet

-         This diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, may decrease oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol and protect against coronary heart disease, suggests a new study.

-         The research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, adds to an ever-growing list of research supporting the health benefits of consuming a traditional Mediterranean diet (TMD), with evidence linking the diet to lower incidence of heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancers.

-         “We also know that the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and consequently rich in antioxidants, and a lot of people simply figured that it would be beneficial,” said Ramon Estruch, from the Service of Internal Medicine at Hospital Clinic, Barcelona.

-         “But nobody has tested the antioxidant effects of this dietary pattern in a randomized trial. This is one of the reasons we started the study,” he added.

-         Heart disease causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion (£116 billion) per year.

-         The Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) study assigned 372 subjects at high cardiovascular risk (average age 67.8, 210 women), and randomly assigned them to a low-fat diet or one of 2 TMDs (TMD plus virgin olive oil or TMD plus nuts) in a controlled, parallel-group trial for three months.

-         After the 3-month interventions, the researchers found that consumption of the olive oil Med diet led to reduction in levels of oxidised LDL by 10.6 units per litre, while the nut-rich Med diet led to reduction of 7.3 unit per litre.

-         Oxidation of LDLs is thought to play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.  Increasing LDL’s resistance to oxidation is thought to possibly delay the progression of the disease.

-         “The present study is, to our knowledge, the first randomized controlled clinical trial focused on the effect of a Mediterranean type diet on in vivo LDL oxidation,” wrote the authors.

-         Decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures occurred as a result of both TMD diets. The researchers add that consumption of the TMD plus nuts led to a reduction in triglyceride level and an increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

-         Given these results, Dr Estruch said: “It’s easy to foresee that the participants who follow the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or with nuts will show in the long run a 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular complications.”

Echium oil

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has issued a draft opinion on that would grant refined echium oil the go-ahead to be marketed in Europe as a novel food and is seeking comments prior to its final decision.

Croda Chemicals Europe applied to the FSA to use refined echium oil in a range of food products, including milk and yoghurt based drinks, breakfast cereals and nutrition bars, and in food supplements.

But before it can do so, the oil has to be approved under novel foods legislation before being used in food products, since it was not commonly eaten in Europe prior to May 1997.

The draft opinion given by the FSA’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes brings a new omega-3 source closer to market, just at a time when demand for healthy oils is at an all-time high and the search is on for viable and vegetarian alternatives to fish oils.

The ingredient is obtained by super-refining oil extracted from the seeds of Echium plantagineum, and is said to be rich in omega-6 fatty acids as well as the omega-3 stearidonic acid(18:4), which is readily converted to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in the body.

David Shannon, sales director for Croda Health Care said “We’ve done some studies at the University of Guelph in Canada, that show about four times more ready conversion from stearidonic acid(18:4)to EPA (20:5)than from ALA [alpha-linolenic acid] to EPA.”

Most vegetarian sources, such as flaxseed, yield ALA, but since this has been seen to from marine sources such as oily fish, this has proved a barrier to the vegetarian market. DHA can also be derived from microalgae.

“The biggest selling point of this is the omega-3 EPA for those people who don’t want to take fish supplements,” said Shannon.

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