Interesterified fat

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Interesterified fats are oils that have been chemically modified (e.g., turning soybean oil into interesterified soybean oil). This is done in order to make them more solid, less liable to go rancid and more stable for applications such as deep frying. The interesterification process is used as an alternative to partial hydrogenation, which results in trans fats. However, research indicates that interesterified fats may pose health risks, some greater in magnitude than trans fats[1].


In a polyunsaturated fat, one or more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are esterified to a glycerol backbone. Interesterification is used to replace the PUFA with a saturated fatty acid, typically stearic acid. The process can be applied to natural oils or fats, or hydrogenated or fractionated oils. It can be induced by chemicals or enzymatic catalysts. The interesterified fats can be separated through controlled crystalization.[2] Interesterification does not introduce trans fatty acids. However, the resulting fat can be subtly different than natural oils.

File:Interesterification rxn.png
A triglyceride with a PUFA (linolenic acid) at the sn-2 position which is replaced by a saturated fatty acid (stearic acid) via interesterification.

In polyunsaturated fats, the PUFA is commonly found at the middle position (sn2) on the glycerol. Stearic acid is not usually found at sn2 in vegetable oils used in the human diet.[3]

Health effects

Research has raised concern about some types of interesterified fats, suggesting that replacing a polyunsaturated fatty-acid molecule in vegetable oil with stearic acid might pose problems if the stearic acid is placed in the middle fatty-acid position of the triglyceride, since it is not as easily metabolized.[3] Other, early research shows that highly-saturated interesterified fats may raise blood sugar levels even more than trans fats.[4] [1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "New Fat, Same Old Problem With An Added Twist? Replacement For Trans Fat Raises Blood Sugar In Humans". Science Daily. January 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
  2. "Kellens, Marc" (2000). "Interesterification Process Conditions" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shelley Wood (2007-01-19). "Risks in New Fat May Be Similar to Trans Fat". Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  4. Sundram K, Karupaiah T, Hayes K. (2007). "Stearic acid-rich interesterified fat and trans-rich fat raise the LDL/HDL ratio and plasma glucose relative to palm olein in humans" (PDF). Nutr Metab. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-4-3. Retrieved 2007-01-19.

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