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Stability of Essential Fatty Acids and Formation of Nutritionally Undesirable Compounds in Baking and Shallow Frying


During cooking oils and fats are exposed to high temperatures that may affect the nutritional quality of foods that are prepared in this way. Concerns have been raised about the degradation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and the formation of potentially harmful compounds during deep frying, but relatively little is known about these changes in other cooking processes. In the present study sponge cakes and fried potatoes were prepared via standardised baking and shallow frying procedures by using different oils and fats (sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, various margarines or butter). The effect of cooking on the retention of two essential fatty acids (linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid) and the formation of trans fatty acids (TFA) and polymerised triacylglycerols (PTG) was evaluated by analyzing fat extracted from the cooked food. It was found that over 95 % of essential fatty acids were retained upon completion of both cooking techniques. The formation of TFA was not significant. Polymerisation was noticeable only in shallow frying, although the final levels of PTG were negligible (<1.3 %). Overall, in contrast to deep frying, oil-based media high in polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to be a good alternative for domestic cooking techniques as they increase the nutritional value of the prepared food.

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The authors would like to thank Ms. Andrea Sekulovic (Unilever R&D, Vlaardingen) for performing the cooking experiments and processing the samples.

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Correspondence to Karel Hrncirik.

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Hrncirik, K., Zeelenberg, M. Stability of Essential Fatty Acids and Formation of Nutritionally Undesirable Compounds in Baking and Shallow Frying. J Am Oil Chem Soc 91, 591–598 (2014).

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  • Oils
  • Fats
  • Margarine
  • Butter
  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Frying
  • Oxidation
  • Trans fatty acids
  • Polymers