Palm Oil Developments No.48 (June 2008) p14-19

Significance of the SN-2 Hypothesis

VOON Phooi Tee, NESARETNAM, Kalanithi

The body uses fats for long-term energy storage because they provide about six times as much energy as an equal weight of stored, hydrated glycogen (McMurray, 2000). Many different fats and oils exist as sources of triacylglycerols in the human diet. These oils originate from fruits (palm oil and olive oil) or from seeds (corn oil, rapeseed oil and soyabean oil). Animal and fish fats are other examples of fats. Animal fats like butter and lard are solid at room temperature while vegetable oils like corn, soyabean and peanut oils are liquid. However, their structures are closely related. Fats and oils are made up of a mixture of triacylglycerols (TAG), which in turn consist of a glycerol backbone to which three fatty acids are esterified. The distribution of the fatty acids on the glycerol backbone of the TAG which is referred to as the stereospecific number, (sn) -1, -2 and -3, plays a significant role as a marker of its composition and properties (Goh, 2006). Figure 1 shows the schematic structure of the TAG where three fatty acids are bonded to a glycerol backbone.

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