Oleogel from cellulose and rapeseed oil: substitute for palm oil

Palm oil has become discredited. Stricter environmental and health awareness among consumers is causing many food manufacturers to rethink their production processes. In a large number of foods, palm oil can easily be replaced by oils of other botanical origin. In products such as chocolate spreads, however, food technology has so far reached its limits. According to one study, rapeseed oil oleogelated with JELUCEL® cellulose fibres offers a promising alternative. This is because the oleogel obtained has a texturing effect like palm oil as well as a more favourable fatty acid profile.

Chocolate cream on toast: symbolic picture for substituting palm oil with an oleogel from cellulose and rapeseed oil in spreads

Rapeseed oil that is oleogelated with JELUCEL® can substitute palm oil in chocolade cream
Picture: © VadimVasenin – Depositphotos.com


Cellulose acting as an oleogelator for rapeseed oil

Our JELUCEL® cellulose is produced from vegetable raw materials and provides a structure for rapeseed oil. Our JELUCEL® bamboo fibres and wheat fibres are particularly suitable. The structuring fibres of the cellulose create a three-dimensional network in which the oil becomes embedded. This process, also termed oleogelation, immobilises the liquid oil and ensures a gel-like structure. Oleogelation using JELUCEL® cellulose is achieved without any heat treatment, thereby maintaining the positive fatty acid composition of rapeseed oil.

Obvious advantages for consumers and manufacturers

  • Firm, spreadable consistency
  • Heat-stable
  • Nutritional value profile of the foodstuff is improved (fewer saturated fatty acids)
  • Higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids

Heat-stable and solid

When using oleogelated rapeseed oil, the same rheological properties are achieved as for chocolate cream with palm oil. The spread has a defined yield stress and is spreadable. The firm structure is ensured by the high cellulose content of our fibres. Spreadability is achieved due to the gel-like consistency of the rapeseed oil. The dispersion of cellulose and rapeseed oil is extremely heat-stable and has an extended shelf life. Even at temperatures in excess of 38 °C, no oil emerges from the solid phase and the desired consistency is maintained.

Oleogel improves nutritional properties

A chocolate spread produced with a dispersion of cellulose and rapeseed oil improves the nutritional properties of the food. This is because, in contrast to palm oil, rapeseed oil has a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids lower the health risks for cardiovascular problems and diabetes. Food manufacturers who replace palm oil with oleogelated rapeseed oil in their products can exploit the nutritional image of rapeseed oil.

In addition, the cellulose increases the fibre content of the food. A mass fraction of 30% JELUCEL® cellulose in rapeseed oil increases the fibre content to 7%. For comparison purposes, a chocolate cream manufactured using palm oil has a fibre content of around 1.3%. The sales text “rich in dietary fibre” is only permitted above a minimum content of 6 g per 100 g of foodstuff.

Good for people, good for the environment

Palm oil has attracted criticism on account of its environmental impact and its unfavourable fatty acid profile. Hitherto only coconut oil – another tropical oil – and hydrogenated fats have proved a substitute for the solid consistency of the fat at room temperature. Both alternatives are nutritionally unfavourable, however. Trans-fatty acids, which pose a potential health risk, can be formed during the hardening of fat.

The structuring property of JELUCEL® cellulose enables food manufacturers to replace palm oil in chocolate spreads with high-grade oleogels, benefiting both people and the environment.

JELUCEL® – versatile plant fibres

Our JELUCEL® cellulose can be used for oleogelation of liquid vegetable oils and to increase the fibre content of foods. In this function, no declaration is required under EU law as a food additive. Please also consider the specific regulations for food approval and food labelling in your country. The following plant fibres are suitable as oleogelators:

Our JELUCEL® products are characterized by the following qualities:

  • Chemically inert
  • Tasteless
  • Neutral in colour
  • Available in different fibre lengths
  • Made from vegetable raw materials

You can find further information on the JELUCEL® product family on our product pages.

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