The major part of a vegetable oil consists of triglyceride molecules (Figure 1). Triglycerides are made up of glycerol molecules bonded to three fatty acid chain molecules.
Fatty acid carbon chains vary in length, anywhere from 6 to 22 carbon atoms. The carbon-to-carbon bonds within the fatty acids are either single or double bonds. If all of the bonds are single bonds, it is referred to as being saturated. One double bond defines a monounsaturated fatty acid and more than one refers to a polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Figure 1: Vegetable oil triglyceride molecules are made up of three free fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol molecule.
There are also a number of minor components which need to be defined.
Incomplete triglycerides, where one or two of the fatty acid chains are missing, are referred to as monoglycerides and diglycerides. All vegetable oils contain minor amounts.
If a fatty acid is not attached to a glycerol molecule it is called a free fatty acid. The amount of free fatty acid can range from a few percent in an unrefined oil to less than 0.1 percent in a refined oil.
Vegetable oils can also contain antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and vitamins. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants that can lower cholesterol, blood pressure and coronary disease risk. They are also known for imparting the bitter taste associated with olive oil. Oils can also contain minor amounts of vitamins A, B3, B6, B9, C, E and K.
Various pigments within vegetable oils determine the color hue and intensity. Carotenoids can range in color from yellow to a deep red and chlorophyll has a dark green hue.
… of the main types of vegetable oils used by C60 vendors …
|Caproic||S C6||0.5 - 1|
|Caprylic||S C8||5 - 10||50 - 80|
|Capric||S C10||4 - 8||20 - 50|
|Lauric||S C12||45 - 52|
|Myristic||S C14||16 - 21|
|Palmitic||S C16||10 - 25||7 - 10||7.5 - 20||5|
|Palmitoleic||M C16||2 - 8|
|Stearic||S C18||0.1 - 0.4||2 - 4||0.5 - 5||6 - 18|
|Oleic||M C18 Ω9||60 - 80||5 - 8||55 - 83||30 - 82|
|Linoleic||P C18 Ω6||7 - 20||1 - 3||3.5 - 21||9 - 69|
|α-Linolenic||P C18 Ω3||0.3 - 1||0 - 0.2||0 - 1.5|
Table 2: Fatty acid composition (range values in wt %) for common C60 carrier oils.
In the structure column: S=Saturated M=Monounsaturated P=Polyunsaturated / C# = chain length / Ω# = omega value.
Avocado oil is considered to be a high quality vegetable oil. It is a fruit-derived oil commonly used to make soap because of its high skin penetration. It is a nutrient-dense food rich in vitamins (A, B6, C, E, K, folate, niacin), potassium, magnesium, chlorophyll and carotenoids. It consists of 80% dietary fiber, has very low sugar content and is considered a heart healthy food.
Coconut oil distinguishes itself as being mainly a saturated fatty acid based oil. It contains medium chain (MCT) and long chain (LCT) triglycerides. Its main component is Lauric acid which is 12 carbon atoms chained together (C12 is the shortest LCT). Its nutrient profile includes vitamin E and some antioxidants. It is very slow to oxidize or go rancid. At room temperature, it has a gel-like continuity which complicates its use as a C60 carrier.
Coconut oil can be fractionated to remove the longer fatty acid chains. This oil is commonly referred to as MCT oil. It is in a liquid state at room temperature and can easily be mixed with C60. A good quality MCT oil will be made up of C8 and/or C10 fatty acids (FA). These FA's don't require digestive enzymes to be broken down and quickly enter the blood stream. As such they make for a quick, clean energy, body and brain food. This oil has good antimicrobial properties and is considered good for the gut and diabetes (type II) management.
Olive oil is another nutrient rich vegetable oil. It is a staple of the Mediterranean diet where heart disease is less common. It also is effective in reducing arthritis and diabetes (type II). Its nutrient profile includes vitamins E and K, polyphenols, chlorophyll, pheophytin and carotenoids. Polyphenols are a key component of extra virgin olive oil and are known to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic, and anti-mutagenic benefits. Oleocanthal is the polyphenol that produces the back of throat stinging sensation experienced with more peppery variants. There is a wide range in the quality, with cheaper blends usually being cut with lesser quality oils.
Sunflower oil is by some considered to be one of those lower quality oils. There are several different grades of this oil on the market and of concern are the (more common) grades containing high levels of Linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is high in Ω6 which is not considered heart healthy. With refined grades we get a high oleic / low linoleic FA ratio which is a healthier option. The increased refining comes at the cost of reducing the nutrient content.
There is a wide range in pricing for these oils. On the Canadian market prices range from about 8 to 60 $CAD per liter depending on make and quality. Commodity olive oils are on the low end and boutique grades on the upper end. The other oils end up somewhere in the middle.
There isn't a lot of difference between the different types of oils when considering C60 delivery efficiency. Theory states that the saturated oils should be able to hold more C60 but in practice it is difficult to achieve. Some vendors claim to have developed proprietary mixing techniques that can deliver a slightly higher solubility level. Other vendors claim to have obtained higher C60 solubility by using Koroneiki olive oil. More lab testing is needed to verify these claims.
For some, the choice of carrier oil is a big deal. A lot of people perceive synergistic benefits that may or may not exist. Vendors naturally want to differentiate their product based on type or quality. Ultimately it really comes down to a matter of preference, tolerance and pricing.
Triglycerides digestion will follow one of two possible routes depending on the composition.
The following discussion highlights the process starting at the small intestine.
MCT oil is digested in a manner similar to that of proteins and carbohydrates.
All three passively diffuse from the small intestine to the liver via the hepatic portal system.
After processing by the liver they move to the heart and into general circulation.
Proteins are first broken down into amino acids and carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugars.
MCT oils differ in that they do not require any modifications before moving through the intestine wall and into the portal capillaries.
Longer triglycerides cannot be absorbed directly by the small intestine due to their size.
These molecules need to be broken down first.
Initially they are emulsified by bile detergents from the liver/gallbladder. They are then broken down by pancreatic enzymes to form mono-glycerides, di-glycerides and free fatty acids. These constituents then enter small intestine epithelial cells. At this point micelles (lipoprotein molecules) are formed called chylomicrons. The chylomicrons have a hydrophilic protein exterior, a lipophilic interior and will contain the original triglyceride elements and any tag-along nutrients.
Chylomicrons are taken up by pores in the lymphatic system. These lymphatic vessels have larger pores than found in capillaries. The chylomicrons route to the thoracic duct in the neck\shoulder area and then into the heart and general blood circulation. They do not directly enter liver like the model described for MCT oils.
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Sunflower Oil: When it’s Healthy and When it’s Not
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