Phospholipids

All fats and oils and fat-containing foods contain a number of phospholipids. The lowest amounts are present in animal fats such as lard and beef tallow. In some crude vegetable oils, such as cottonseed, corn, and soybean oils, phospholipids may be present at levels of 2 to 3%. Phospholipids are surface active, because they contain a lipophilic and a hydrophilic portion. Since they can be easily hydrated, they can be removed from fats and oils during the refining process. The structure of the most important phospholipids is given in Figure 2. The phospholipids removed from soy bean oil are used as emulsifiers in foods. Soybean phospholipids, also known as soy lecithin, contain about 35% lecithin and 65% cephalin. The acyl groups in phospholipids are usually more unsaturated than those of the triglycerides in which they are present. Saturated fatty acids are found mostly in position 1 and unsaturated fatty acids in position 2.

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