Medycyna Wet. 65 (3), 171-174, 2009

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Joanna Barłowska, Zygmunt Litwińczuk
Nutritional and pro-health properties of milk fat
Fat is the most differentiated milk constituent. It occurs in the form of natural emulsion, i.e. dispersed fat globules of average diameter 0.1-20 µm. It is composed of triglycerides that account for 96-99% of total milk fat, phospholipids, sterols, including cholesterol, free fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K as well as beta-carotene. Milk fat consists of approximately 400-500 fatty acids that are divided into numerous groups, subject to chain length and a saturation degree. Among fatty acids, there are those with negative effects to consumers’ health, such as an increased blood cholesterol level. The saturated fatty acids include lauric (C12:0) and myristic acids (C14:0), while the unsaturated ones are those of trans configuration. Palmitic acid (C16:0) was shown to induce occasional negative effects in elderly people, whereas stearic acid (C18:0) remains neutral in this respect. However, milk fat comprises a considerable number of health-beneficial fatty acids, such as butyric acid (C4:0), oleic acid (C18:0) and polyunsaturated ones, like linoleic acid (C18:2), α-linolenic acid (C18:3), arachidonic acid (C20:4), eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5), docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6) and CLA (isomer cis 9 trans 11).
Keywords: milk, fatty acids, pro-health milk properties,