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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Enzyme (lipase) catalyzed synthesis of low calorie triglycerides
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Triglycerides can be synthesized that, while being almost chemically identical to natural fats and oils and thus having all of the organoleptic properties and flavor of these materials, are only partially absorbed during human digestion thereby reducing actual calorie intake to about half that of the natural materials. These synthesized triglycerides must be free of byproducts if they are to be used in foods and have specific physical properties, especially melting point. Conventional methods of synthesis use high temperatures with the simultaneous removal of water to effect formation of the triglyceride from the starting materials. Other alternatives are not as attractive because of formation of byproducts or high cost of starting materials. The need therefore exists to develop a method that avoids these undesirable high temperatures, byproducts, or costly starting materials.

We have discovered an enzymatic method of producing reduced calorie synthetic triglycerides using lipases from Geotrichum candidum or Candida rugosa as catalysts. These lipases are highly fatty acid specific and the reaction is carried out at moderate temperatures. The triglycerides can be made by this novel method when they have medium- and/or short-chain fatty acids at the 2 and at one of the primary positions and an unsaturated fatty acid having a chain length of at least 18 carbons at the remaining primary position.

One such synthetic triglyceride, monobehenoyldioctoyl-glycerol, is already available commercially and has been incorporated into low fat food products. It, however, is synthesized by the conventional method described above.

The introduction of short- and/or medium-chain fatty acids to a triglyceride molecule enhances the nutritional value of many food products containing the triglyceride. These fatty acids are powerful energy sources which are easily and readily absorbed and digested. Moreover, they do not contribute directly to serum cholesterol or body fat. There are numerous other interesting examples where this technology can be applied, starting with natural fats and converting them to these desirable low calorie fats with the desirable organoleptic properties of the natural materials.

Patent Status:
Patent Application 08/265,367 filed June 24, 1994.

Responsible Scientist/Engineer:
Dr. Thomas A. Foglia
Eastern Regional Research Center
600 East Mermaid Lane
Wyndmoor, PA 19038
(215) 233-6480

Technology Transfer Contact:
Victor (Vic) Chavez
(215) 233-6610


Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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