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Monoglyceride is the term for a glyceride in which each glycerol molecule has formed an ester bond with exactly one fatty acid molecule. The more formally correct terms in modern convention are acylglycerol and monoacylglycerol.
Any monoacylglycerol is either a 1-monoacylglycerol or a 2-monoacylglycerol, depending on the position of the ester bond on the glycerol moiety.
Monoacylglycerols are variously produced by biological or industrial chemical processes. Biochemically they commonly are formed either by enzymatic hydrolysis of a fatty acid from diacylglycerol by the action of diacylglycerol lipase, or as an intermediate in the alkanoylation of glycerol to form fats.
In normal metabolic processes monoacylglycerols are hydrolysed by monoacylglycerol lipase as required.
Together with diglycerides, monoglycerides commonly are added to commercial food products in small quantities. In these applications they are useful as emulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients such as oily materials and water that otherwise would blend poorly. The values given in the nutritional labels for total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat do not include those present in mono- and diglycerides, largely because the bulk of the fat content consists of triacylglycerols.
The commercial raw materials for the production of monoacylglycerols may be either vegetable or animal fats and oils. Bulk animal sources typically are cattle or hogs, but any economically available triacylglycerols with acceptable fatty-acid composition may be used as preferred. Monoacylglycerols also may be made synthetically. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections. In bakery products, monoglycerides are useful in improving loaf volume and texture, and as antistaling agents.