Quality characteristics of edible linseed oil

Minna Nykter, Hanna-Riitta Kymäläinen, Fred Gates, Anna-Maija Sjöberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review


In this review the quality properties of linseed oil for food uses are discussed as well as factors affecting this quality. Linseed oil has a favourable fatty acid composition with a high linolenic acid content. Linseed oil contains nearly 60% alpha-linolenic acid, compared with 25% for plant oils generally. The content of linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acids is reported to be high in linseed grown in northern latitudes. The composition of fatty acids, especially unsaturated fatty acids, reported in different studies varies considerably for linseed oil. This variation depends mainly on differences in the examined varieties and industrial processing treatments. The fatty acid composition leads also to some problems, rancidity probably being the most challenging. Some information has been published concerning oxidation and taste, whereas only a few studies have focused on colour or microbiological quality. Rancidity negatively affects the taste and odour of the oil. There are available a few studies on effects of storage on composition of linseed oil. In general, storage and heat promote auto-oxidation of fats, as well as decrease the amounts of tocopherols and vitamin E in linseed oil. Several methods are available to promote the quality of the oil, including agronomic methods and methods of breeding as well as chemical, biotechnological and microbiological methods. Time of harvesting and weather conditions affect the quality and yield of the oil.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgricultural and Food Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)402-413
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • 514 Sociology
  • 222 Other engineering and technologies
  • 414 Agricultural biotechnology
  • 411 Agriculture and forestry

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