Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Oxidative stability of phytosterols in food models and foods

Laura Soupas

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Food chemistry.

An important safety aspect to be considered when foods are enriched with phytosterols and phytostanols is the oxidative stability of these lipid compounds, i.e. their resistance to oxidation and thus to the formation of oxidation products. This study concentrated on producing scientific data to support this safety evaluation process. In the absence of an official method for analyzing of phytosterol/stanol oxidation products, we first developed a new gas chromatographic - mass spectrometric (GC-MS) method. We then investigated factors affecting these compounds' oxidative stability in lipid-based food models in order to identify critical conditions under which significant oxidation reactions may occur. Finally, the oxidative stability of phytosterols and stanols in enriched foods during processing and storage was evaluated. Enriched foods covered a range of commercially available phytosterol/stanol ingredients, different heat treatments during food processing, and different multiphase food structures.

The GC-MS method was a powerful tool for measuring the oxidative stability. Data obtained in food model studies revealed that the critical factors for the formation and distribution of the main secondary oxidation products were sterol structure, reaction temperature, reaction time, and lipid matrix composition. Under all conditions studied, phytostanols as saturated compounds were more stable than unsaturated phytosterols. In addition, esterification made phytosterols more reactive than free sterols at low temperatures, while at high temperatures the situation was the reverse. Generally, oxidation reactions were more significant at temperatures above 100C. At lower temperatures, the significance of these reactions increased with increasing reaction time. The effect of lipid matrix composition was dependent on temperature; at temperatures above 140C, phytosterols were more stable in an unsaturated lipid matrix, whereas below 140C they were more stable in a saturated lipid matrix. At 140C, phytosterols oxidized at the same rate in both matrices. Regardless of temperature, phytostanols oxidized more in an unsaturated lipid matrix.

Generally, the distribution of oxidation products seemed to be associated with the phase of overall oxidation. 7-ketophytosterols accumulated when oxidation had not yet reached the dynamic state. Once this state was attained, the major products were 5,6-epoxyphytosterols and 7-hydroxyphytosterols. The changes observed in phytostanol oxidation products were not as informative since all stanol oxides quantified represented hydroxyl compounds. The formation of these secondary oxidation products did not account for all of the phytosterol/stanol losses observed during the heating experiments, indicating the presence of dimeric, oligomeric or other oxidation products, especially when free phytosterols and stanols were heated at high temperatures.

Commercially available phytosterol/stanol ingredients were stable during such food processes as spray-drying and ultra high temperature (UHT)-type heating and subsequent long-term storage. Pan-frying, however, induced phytosterol oxidation and was classified as a rather deteriorative process. Overall, the findings indicated that although phytosterols and stanols are stable in normal food processing conditions, attention should be paid to their use in frying. Complex interactions between other food constituents also suggested that when new phytosterol-enriched foods are developed their oxidative stability must first be established. The results presented here will assist in choosing safe conditions for phytosterol/stanol enrichment.

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Last updated 25.10.2006

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