High oleic oil is a term that you will see applied to many different types of oil: canola, sunflower, safflower and more. High oleic oils have seen a recent spike in popularity, especially in the natural snack food manufacturing industry.
Why is this so? High oleic oils are premium options that have a healthier fat composition, a longer shelf life, a higher heat tolerance and an extended fry life.
For all of these reasons and more, this ingredient is a perfect fit for natural chips, popcorn and other baked and fried snacks.
What Does High Oleic Mean?
‘High oleic’ is an adjective used to describe a particular type or strain of seed that is used to produce oil (like sunflower, safflower or canola seeds). The resulting oil that comes out of that high oleic seed is a high oleic oil.
For example, there is a high oleic canola plant that produces seeds used to make high oleic canola oil . Inside those seeds, the make up of the type of fat is different: in high oleic oils, there are more healthy monounsaturated fats than in regular oils, which have a higher percentage of polyunsaturated fats.
Because this fat profile is different (which is the major core difference of the product) the functionality of this oil changes and provides a bunch of different benefits for food manufacturers.
The good news is that the final oil looks and tastes the same way, so if you’ve already done R&D on regular canola or regular sunflower oil, the swap will be an easy one.
Below is a chart that compares the type of fats that typically makes up a regular sunflower oil vs. a high oleic sunflower. You can see how the high oleic oil contains more monounsaturated fats (the healthy kind) and less polyunsaturated.
The Pros of High Oleic Oil
There are a lot of pros of a high oleic oil. It is one of the most premium options for seed oils, and there’s always lots of reasons for food manufacturers to want to use it.
To begin, high oleic oils are very stable due to the high level of monounsaturated fats inside. This means that in high heat, they won’t break down or oxidize as quickly as other conventional, economy or commodity oils will. This means that they can hold up to high heats like baking or frying. When baking, they won’t smoke or cause a change in the flavor of your product.
High oleic oils also hold up better to frying and offer longer fry life. Let’s pretend that you change your economy “plain old” canola oil once a day in the fryer of your restaurant. A high oleic oil, in comparison, will last you 1.5 days, 2 days or even 3 days before you need to change it. This allows you to save money on the oil over time because you’re using less oil over the course of a week, while still maintaining the good quality of your food.
For more information, I’d suggest reading the following case studies:
For snack food manufacturers, the final shelf life of the product is also improved. The oil is a component of your final product that goes into a retail pack. Because the oil doesn’t oxidize as quickly and maintains it’s own longer shelf life, it may cause your product to also have a longer shelf life as well. This, however, requires custom shelf life testing because each product’s formulation and packaging is different.
The Cons of High Oleic Oil
There is really only one con to high oleic oils: because it is a high quality, premium oil it does often come at a higher price.
That said, the extended life of the oil and quality of the finished product often outweighs the higher cost — especially if you are using it for frying.
Always remember, you get what you pay for.
Why Would You Choose A High Oleic Oil?
A high oleic oil will be ideal for your product if:
- You are in the natural food manufacturing industry, where these oils are highly popular and desired by your healthy consumer target market
- If the oil needs to hold up under high heat, either baking or frying
- If you are frying your product and you can change the oil less often saving money over time
- If you want a longer shelf life
- If you want more healthy monounsaturated fats and less saturated and polyunsaurated fats