According to clinical studies, the chances of dying from heart disease is up to 32% if the consumption of trans fats as daily energy intake is 2%. The regular intake of trans fats negatively impacts blood cholesterol levels due to which the risk of heart disease increases.
Considering adverse impact of trans fats in human health, the health authorities throughout the world have been discouraging its consumption as it is not required in human diet. The World Health Organization recommends to reduce the consumption of trans fats to less than 1%. European Food Safety Authority, on the other hand, moves a step ahead in this regard recommending to consume trans fats as low as possible.
This strong move of health authorities at different level—global, regional and national—is also strongly discouraging food companies regarding the use of Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) in processed foods. Of the two types of trans fats—naturally occurring and artificial trans fats—PHOs are main dietary source of artificial trans fats used in processed foods.
Despite its negative impact on health, food companies have been using industrial trans fats because it is inexpensive to produce, lasts long and is easy to use. From consumers perspective, trans fats add better taste and texture on foods.
In response to mandatory restrictions on PHOs imposed by some of the European countries—Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, etc.—food companies in Europe are looking for its (PHOs) alternative. And one of the best alternatives is blending tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil.
Palm oil is quite popular due to its easy availability, low cost and can be used in different kinds of processed foods like margarine, shortening, etc. Although the oil consists of high level of saturated fats and low level of polyunsaturated fats, but it is less harmful to heart than PHOs. Similarly, coconut oil is one of the healthy oils as it contains lauric acids which can kill bacteria in our digestive systems. Moreover, the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-9 linolenic acid in the oil benefits the heart.
The identification of coconut and palm oil as an alternative of PHOs is likely to increase the demand for both the oils in the oil and fat market of Eastern and Western Europe. At the growth rate of over 6% CAGR, the coconut oil is expected to generate over US $640 million revenue by 2021 in Western Europe.
Subarna Poudel is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at email@example.com
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