Omega-3-enriched canola oil potency strengthens commercialisation route

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The  study found the oil reduced the plasma concentration of the protein PCSK9, which is linked the cholesterol levels. ©iStock/matka_Wariatka
The study found the oil reduced the plasma concentration of the protein PCSK9, which is linked the cholesterol levels. ©iStock/matka_Wariatka

Related tags Fatty acid

Consuming canola oil enriched with omega-3 helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications such as hardening of the arteries, according to a study.

In addition to a reduced triglyceride blood concentration, they also found that the fatty acid reduces the plasma concentration of the protein PCSK9.

The presence of PCSK9 has been linked with raised levels of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood. Recent studies​ have shown blocking PCSK9 can lower blood LDL-particle concentrations.

Omega-3 fatty acids are of great commercial interest as companies are looking to alternative approaches to fulfil the worldwide demand for this oil.

A plant-based approach is not only considered more environmentally-sustainable but more cost-effective when compared to marine-derived sources such as fish, fungi or microalgae.

This has been backed up by research that identifies the oil seed crop as ripe for further development. A previous study​by the same group backs up claims of omega-3-enriched high oleic canola oil (CanolaDHA) in reducing LDL cholesterol levels.

According to a recent research​ featured in Nature Biotechnology, a collaboration with Dow AgroSciences and DSM to develop field-grown canola that contains long chain omega-3 fatty acids ‘are commercially relevant, especially as we have demonstrated that the PUFA synthase system is robust across the complete production cycle from introduction into a mainstream oilseed crop through field cultivation, grain storage and processing to a finished oil.’

Study details

blood clot artery cardiovascular heart iStock Rob Gentile
The WHO has estimated that by 2030, over 23 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases each year. ©iStock/gentile

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR), and the Research and Development Functional Food Centre (CIDAF) enrolled 84 subjects into a double-blinded crossover randomised control trial that received support by Dow AgroSciences.

Made up of five 30-day treatment periods, these subjects’ diets included either a 60 grams a day (g/d) treatment of conventional canola oil (Canola), a DHA-enriched high oleic canola oil (CanolaDHA) blend, a corn/safflower oil blend (CornSaff), a flax/safflower oil blend (FlaxSaff) or a high oleic canola oil (CanolaOleic).

Plasma PCSK9 levels were assessed at the end of each phase. Lipid profiles showed that CanolaDHA feeding resulted in the highest serum total cholesterol (Triglyceride, 5.06 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)) and LDL-cholesterol levels (3.15 mmol/L) across all five treatments.

CanolaDHA feeding also produced the lowest plasma PCSK9 concentrations (216.42 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL)) compared to other dietary oil treatments.

"We can state that although the mechanism of action for the consumption of different fatty acids on plasma concentrations of PCSK9 is being investigated, we should not forget the importance of dietary fat in the prevention of the risk of cardiovascular diseases"​ said lead author of the study, Dr Celia Rodríguez, UGR and CIDAF researcher. 

Canola oil interests

As well as the Dow AgroSciences and DSM collaboration, ingredients giant Cargill teamed up with BASF in 2011 on a €100m project designed to bring genetically-modified canola oil enriched with omega-3 forms eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to market by 2020.

Willie Loh, VP, market development, Cargill Specialty Seeds & Oils told us​:“Cargill and BASF have been jointly working to develop canola oils containing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) since 2009.”

“BASF contributed the genes and associated intellectual property necessary for development of the novel oil. Cargill contributed its plant breeding, oil stabilization and processing technologies, and associated intellectual property.”

Closer to home, the UK-based agricultural research outfit Rothamsted Research had in 2014, applied to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for permission to conduct genetically-modified field trials involving Camelina plants that accumulate omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Source: Vascular Pharmacology

Published online ahead of print,

“Dietary high oleic canola oil supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid attenuates plasma proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) levels in participants with cardiovascular disease risk: A randomized control trial.”

Authors: Celia Rodríguez-Pérez et al.

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