Erucic Acid

What is Erucic acid? Erucic acid is the trivial name of the fatty acid cis-13-docosenoic acid. It occurs at high concentrations mainly in the seeds of species of the Brassicaceae (e.g. rapeseed or mustard seed).

Erucic acid is a 22–carbon monounsaturated fatty acid with a single double bond at the omega 9 position. Erucic acid constitutes about 30–60% of the total fatty acids of rapeseed, mustard seed and wallflower seed and up to 80% of the total fatty acids of nasturtium seeds.

As a fatty acid, it is digested, absorbed and metabolised, for the most part, like other fatty acids.

Erucic acid is found primarily in rapeseed oils and mustard seed oils. Rapeseed oils, and to a much lesser extent mustard seed oils, are used extensively in foods.

Canola oil has virtually replaced all uses for rapeseed oil and can be used by itself as a salad or vegetable oil. However, it is usually blended with other vegetable oils in the production of margarine, shortening, salad oil and vegetable oil.

An association between erucic acid and an increased incidence of myocardial lipidosis in animals has been demonstrated. It is not apparent from human data whether this effect also occurs in humans in response to the consumption of erucic acid.

The occurrence of increased lipidosis in animals is generally short lived, the myocardium and liver eventually adapting to the oxidation of erucic acid. The long-term effects, if any, of this adaptation are not known.

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