The chemistry of oils and fats - sources, composition, properties and uses

The chemistry of oils and fats - sources, composition, properties and uses
Frank D Gunstone
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing and Boca Raton: CRC Press 2004 | Pp 304 | ?95 (HB) | ISBN 1405116269 (Blackwell); 0849323738 (CRC Press)
Reviewed by Keith Coupland

Lipid chemistry is a largely neglected subject in a number of colleges and universities and Frank Gunstone’s new book is a useful primer for those new to the field.

Lipid science has gained enormous exposure in journals, the popular press and even in movies such as Lorenzo’s oil. There is a growing awareness that certain lipids are good for your health and terms such as omega-3, omega-6 and trans-isomers are in common use. You only have to check labelling on common foods to appreciate this fact.

With global challenges such as depleted fossil fuel reserves, and omega-3 containing marine oils becoming scarce, an understanding of how infinitely renewable plant oils can augment or replace these resources becomes increasingly important.

This book is, as the author states, a good place to start. In 11 chapters the book covers all the key aspects of the chemistry, biology and technology relating to oils, fats and waxes. There are inevitably some minor omissions such as the absence of information on the erucic acid content of high erucic acid rapeseed oil! Growing high erucic acid rapeseed in the UK was a major success story for UK farmers in their search for alternative industrial crops.

The book is well referenced and provides an excellent start for those wishing to explore the fascinating subject of lipid science.