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Monoacylglycerol can be broadly divided into two groups; 1-monoacylglycerols and 2-monoacylglycerols, depending on the position of the ester bond on the glycerol moiety.
Monoacylglycerols can be formed by both industrial chemical and biological processes. They are formed biochemically via release of a fatty acid from diacylglycerol by diacylglycerol lipase. Monoacylglycerols are broken down by monoacylglycerol lipase.
Mono- and diglycerides are commonly added to commercial food products in small quantities. They act as emulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients such as oil and water that would not otherwise blend well.
The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, and they may be synthetically made as well. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections. When used in bakery products, monoglycerides improve loaf volume, and create a smooth, soft crumb.