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Issue 5, 2012
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Structure and functionality of edible fats

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Fat-structured food materials are an important component of our diet. The role that fat plays in material functionality, flavor perception, texture and health characteristics is due in large part to its physical properties. An understanding of these physical properties is relevant from scientific, technological and medical perspectives. The physical properties of fat materials, are, in turn, governed by a complex confluence of the various structural levels in a fat material beginning with triglyceride molecules. The formation of nanoscale structural elements by these molecules is the first step in the formation of a fat material as we know it. This review shows how these microstructural elements can be imaged and characterized. It is also shown that the formation of these nanocrystals is affected by the attendant crystallization parameters. Through simulation and a discussion of van der Waals forces, it is shown that these nanoscale elements assemble into colloidal aggregates with fractal character. The influence of microstructure on the mechanical properties of a fat material is explained using a variety of mechanical models. Lastly, this review examines methods by which the properties and characteristics of the various structural levels can be engineered. Shear has been shown to affect the polymorphism and phase transition kinetics of triglyceride crystals. As well, shear has been shown to modify the aggregation of nanocrystals, with consequences for the porosity and diffusivity of oil through the fat crystal network.

Graphical abstract: Structure and functionality of edible fats

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Jun 2011, accepted on 11 Oct 2011 and first published on 11 Nov 2011

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C1SM06234D
Soft Matter, 2012,8, 1275-1300

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    Structure and functionality of edible fats

    A. G. Marangoni, N. Acevedo, F. Maleky, E. Co, F. Peyronel, G. Mazzanti, B. Quinn and D. Pink, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 1275
    DOI: 10.1039/C1SM06234D

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