Edible oils are the major natural dietary sources of tocopherols and tocotrienols, collectively known as tocols. Plant foods with low lipid content usually have negligible quantities of tocols. However, seeds and other plant food processing by-products may serve as alternative sources of edible oils with considerable contents of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocopherols are among the most important lipid-soluble antioxidants in food as well as in human and animal tissues. Tocopherols are found in lipid-rich regions of cells (e.g., mitochondrial membranes), fat depots, and lipoproteins such as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Their health benefits may also be explained by regulation of gene expression, signal transduction, and modulation of cell functions. Potential health benefits of tocols include prevention of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic ailments. Although deficiencies of tocopherol are uncommon, a continuous intake from common and novel dietary sources of tocopherols and tocotrienols is advantageous. Thus, this contribution will focus on the relevant literature on common and emerging edible oils as a source of tocols. Potential application and health effects as well as the impact of new cultivars as sources of edible oils and their processing discards are presented. Future trends and drawbacks are also briefly covered.
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