Canola producers are hoping that last week’s USFDA ruling on trans fats will provide a boost for their crop.

Trans fats are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils and are in the firing line because they raise low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and lower high density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol in the blood. Elevated LDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The FDA labelling regulations, which will come into effect 1 January 2006, require food producers to list the amount of trans fats in their products on ingredients labels. As a result, we can expect manufacturers to seek to use the more stable vegetable oils, such as canola.

No vegetable oils contain trans fats in their natural state, but they become partially hydrogenated when fried. However, a new variety of canola called high oleic canola is “naturally stable and can be used in deep frying applications without having to be partially hydrogenated,” Barbara Isman of the Canola Council of Canada is reported as saying by Dow Jones Commodities Service. Isman sees a very bright future for both Canadian and US canola growers as a result.

Some 6% of the 11.6 million acres sown to canola in Canada is of the high oleic variety, with this figure seen rising steeply over the next few years.

Isman commented that a new, more stable, strain of soybean is also being developed. Soybean oil has 15% saturated fat against 7% for canola oil – the lowest saturated fat content of all vegetable oils.

just-food.com published a feature on trans fat labelling this week. To read it, just click here.