Fat

Milkfat is considered the most complex of all common fats. It is composed of triglycerides (96%) and contains more types of fatty acids than vegetable oils. Milkfat is mainly saturated (65%) but also contains monounsaturated (32%) and polyunsaturated (3%) fatty acids. Milkfat typically contains 7% short-chain fatty acids (C4-C8), 15-20% medium-chain fatty acids (C10-C14), and 73-78% long-chain fatty acids (>C16). The fat is a carrier of numerous lipids (cerebrosides, sterols, and phospholipids) and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Whole milk (3.3% fat) contains 14 mg cholesterol per 100 g milk, whereas milk of 0.18% fat contains 2 mg cholesterol per 100 g milk. Milk is an emulsion of fat in water (serum). The emulsion is stabilized by phospholipids that are absorbed on the fat globules. The emulsion is broken during treatments such as homogenization and churning. Current U.S. legal standards now allow skim milk (<0.5% fat) to use the terms fat free or nonfat, 1% milk can use light or lowfat, 2% milk can use reduced fat, and whole milk (3.25% minimum fat) remains unchanged.

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