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Trans-free Fat Alternatives

In previous fact sheets (FAPC-133 Trans Fats, Health and Nutritional Labeling of Foods and FAPC-134 Formulating Food Products with Low Trans Fats) health effects of trans fats and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling rule regarding foods containing trans fats were discussed. Since then a number of new low trans and trans free fat alternatives have been developed by the edible shortening and oil industry. This fact sheet will highlight some of these products. While reading this fact sheet, it is important to keep in mind that currently “no trans” and “zero trans” claims refer to 0.5 grams or less trans fat per serving (see FAPC-133 for the recent regulation). The serving size is defined as 1 tablespoon or about 12 grams.


Fats/oils are essential components of a balanced diet and play a critical role in disease prevention and treatment. Omega-3 (see Fact Sheet FAPC-135 for more information on omega-3 oils) and conjugated linoleic acid-containing fats/oils have a number of health benefits including reducing body fat, increasing lean muscle mass, decreasing risk factor for late-onset of Alzheimer’s disease and improving cardiovascular health.


Trans fats or trans fatty acid-containing fats/oils, naturally occur in meats and dairy products. Concerns over the adverse effects of trans fats are not for the ones naturally present in foods but for the ones formed during hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Today, there is a significant body of scientific evidence indicating that trans fatty acids increase low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and decrease high density lipoprotein levels (good cholesterol).


The fatty acid composition of fats and oils determines their oxidative stability (Table 1). Oils containing highly unsaturated fatty acids (i.e. polyunsaturated acids such as linolenic, linoleic, eicosapentaenoic-EPA and docosahexaenoic acids-DHA) are prone to rapid oxidation. The majority of plant oils do not contain a significant amount of EPA and DHA. However, traditional soybean and canola varieties have substantial amounts of linolenic acid, which makes them unsuitable for some food applications such as deep fat frying. The degradation products of linolenic acid can result in strong off-flavors. Oils with lower levels of linolenic acid have dramatically improved flavor profiles.


Hydrogenation reduces the number of double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids. There are two main reasons for hydrogenating vegetable oils: to increase stability by reducing the tendency to oxidize thereby extend shelf life and fry life and to change the physical characteristics for easier handling and consistency for improved functionality such as aeration, mouth feel and texture. Fats and oils containing low levels of linolenic acid without partial hydrogenation are naturally stable.


QUALISOY “is a collaborative effort in the soybean industry to help market the development and availability of healthier soybeans and soy oil, reduce environmental impacts of livestock production through improved soybean meal, and improve the global competitiveness of the U.S. soybean industry” ( VISTIVE Gold™ (< 72 percent oleic acid) and Plenish high oleic soybean oils (75 percent oleic acid) provide higher oil stability as compared to regular soybean oils.Low saturated fat content and neutral flavor profile are other advantages of these oils. Trait Enhanced oilseeds are developed by breeders to have reduced levels of polyunsaturates (linolenic and linoleic acids).


Table 1. Fatty acid composition of oilseeds (%, w/w basis).

Oil Source Saturated Mono-saturated Poly-saturated Linoleic Linolenic
Normal Soybean 14.4 23.3 57.9 51.0 6.8
Normal Canola 7.1 58.9 29.6 20.3 9.3
High Oleic Canola 6.5 72.0 17.1 14.3 2.6
Normal Sunflower 10.3 19.5 65.7 65.7 0.0
Mid Oleic Sunflower 9.0 57.3 29.0 28.7 <0.1
High Oleic Sunflower 9.7 83.6 3.8 3.6 0.2
Corn 12.9 27.6 54.7 53.2 1.2
Peanut 16.9 46.2 32.0 32.0 0.0
Cottonseed 25.9 17.8 51.9 51.5 0.2
Palm 49.3 37.0 9.3 9.1 0.2
Palm Kernal 81.5 11.4 1.6 1.6 0.0
Coconut 86.5 5.8 1.8 1.8 0.0


Low Trans and Trans Free Fats/Oils

Available from Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Novalipid – NovaLipid products contain little to no trans fat but provide full functionality and extremely low taste profiles.


Naturally Stable Oils – Canola, cottonseed, sunflower seed, soybean and corn oil provide the opportunity to tailor made blends that will meet the requirements of a broad range of food formulations including baking, frying, sauces, dressings and spraying oil.


Enzymatically Interesterified Oils and Shortenings – These products provide a sharper melting profile and a low-trans alternative for baking and frying applications.


Palm Products – Palm oil, palm olein and palm stearin can be used to replace trans fat rich partially hydrogenated fats. However, high saturated fat content of some of these products should be considered while formulating food products.


Coconut and Palm Kernel Oil Products – These oils are designed for coatings, fillings, confections, coffee whiteners and other applications that require sharp melting characteristics. Modified forms of these oils, i.e. interesterified, blended, and/or full hydrogenated products provide good options specific applications.



No Trans Alternatives from Bunge North America

UltraBlends Technology – The UltraBlends Technology delivers trans fat free products produced without partial hydrogenation and include no palm products.  These products, shortenings, produced via an enzymatic interesterification process that does not generate trans fats. Bakers margarine and all-purpose, donut frying and icing shortenings produced using UltraBlend Technology are available.


Non-hydrogenated Technology – Non-hydrogenated (NH) technology utilizes non-hydrogenated palm oil and/or palm kernel oil with no trans fats. Bakers, cookie, table grade, pastry for laminated dough and roll-in no salt margarines and various butter blends produced using NH technology are available.


Nutra-Clear NT Ultra – Nutra-Clear NT Ultra high oleic canola oil and high oleic soybean oil are designed for frying, roasting and snack spray oil.


Trans Fat Alternatives from Cargill

Clear Valley – Clear Valley line of products contains canola and sunflower oils, zero trans fat and low levels of saturated fats. This line consists of the following products:

  • Clear Valley CV 65 High Oleic Canola Oil
  • Odyssey 90 and 95 High Stability Canola Oil
  • Non-GMO High Oleic Canola
  • Clear Valley Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Clear Valley High Oleic Sunflower Oil
  • Odyssey 100 High Stability Sunflower Oil
  • Clear Valley Expeller Pressed High Oleic Sunflower Oil


Regal Bakery Shortenings

Regal shortenings are designed for baking applications. This line consists of the following products:

Icing shortening NH (contains palm oil, high oleic canola, oil, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60)


All-purpose shortening (contains interesterified soybean oil)


Trans Fat Alternatives from Stratas Foods

Stratas markets branded, custom and private label oil products in the USA and Canada, including frying oils, flavored oils and bakery shortenings. Some examples of trans fat free products offered by the company as follows:

Nutex shortening is designed as liquid cake shortening that contains no tropical fats or hydrogenated oils and has zero grams of transfat per serving.


Buckeye Palm Flex Bakers Margarine is developed for sweet Goods and Danish, provides butter flavor, heat stability and comes as zero gram trans fat formula.


Golden Sweetex Z Shortening is a zero gram trans fat roll-in shortening designed for cakes and icings.



For more information about the products listed in this fact sheet, please visit the following websites:  Bunge: The Oil Experts

Nurhan Dunford
FAPC Oil/Oilseed Specialist

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