QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 76 - Page 18

Research confirms East Lothian rapeseed oil is rich in antioxidants T ests carried out by a team of researchers have shown that high quality rapeseed oil produced in East Lothian contains naturally occurring antioxidants which are not diminished by domestic cooking. The team from QMU carried out the research into Black & Gold cold-pressed rapeseed oil which is produced on a farm at Stevenson Mains, East Lothian. Rapeseed oil is generally believed to be a good source of Omega 3. The original brief was to establish the hard facts about the Omega 3 nutritional content of the oil and its health benefits. Louise and Hugh Elder started Black & Gold at their family farm in 2010. Having read lots of information about the nutritional value of rapeseed oil, Louise believed her newly-developed product was a rich source of Omega 3, and therefore assumed it offered significant health benefits in terms of reducing chronic disorders such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and potentially cancer. Louise explained: “We were at a development stage of the business and wanted to expand the brand beyond farm shops, delis and butchers, by developing channels into clinical practitioners, health stores, health centres and online sales. “I therefore needed to be absolutely clear about the properties of Black & Gold so that I could be accurate and honest about any nutritional claims I made on the labelling and in the marketing material. Engaging with the University completely changed my original beliefs and understanding of the nutritional content of rapeseed oil.” Dr Jane McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Metabolism at QMU, explained: “Due to the way some of our foods are processed, most people in the 18 QMYOU / Commercial Feature UK already have a high intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, yet the risks of heart attack and stroke are still among the highest in Europe. It’s not the total amount of Omega 3 that matters. What’s important is the balance between the amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and also the content of some specific Omega 3 fatty acids. The long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA have particular benefits in preventing chronic disorders, and can only be obtained from oily fish and a few other marine sources. Unfortunately, they are not found in any oils used for cooking or food processing.” This finding was a surprise to Louise Elder. She said: “Dr McKenzie explained that consumer confusion arises because the widespread marketing term ‘omega-3 fatty acids’ doesn’t differentiate between long chain Omega 3 found in fish, and Omega 3 found in plants such as rapeseed. It was very exciting to learn from Jane and her team the full spectrum of the nutritional properties of the oil.” Dr McKenzie continued: “We knew that the company only subjected the crop to a minimal amount of processing, so there was an assumption that Black & Gold might contain high levels of naturally-occurring antioxidants which may normally be removed by excessive processing, but this had to be proved. Many antioxidants have the ability to protect the body against damage, and may act alongside some of the Omega 3 fatty acids in reducing the overall risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”