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J Dairy Sci. 1991 Sep;74(9):3228-43.

The composition of milk fat.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-4017.


Bovine milk contains about 3.5 to 5% total lipid, existing as emulsified globules 2 to 4 microns in diameter and coated with a membrane derived from the secreting cell. In homogenized milk, the coat is mostly casein. About 98% or more of the lipid is triacylglycerol, which is found in the globule. Phospholipids are about .5 to 1% of total lipids, and sterols are .2 to .5%. These are mostly located in the globule membrane. Cholesterol is the major sterol at 10 to 20 mg/dl. Data are presented on the membrane and the emulsion. Bovine milk contains substantial quantities of C4:0 to C10:0, about 2% each of C18:2 and trans-C18:1, and almost no other long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fatty acid composition is not altered by ordinary changes in diet. The triacylglycerol structure is unique, with much of the C4:0 to C10:0 at sn-3. The effects of milk cholesterol and fatty acids on human blood cholesterol levels and nonnutritive roles of some microlipids are discussed.

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