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Mystery Ingredients: Mono & Diglycerides PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 30 May 2008 12:27

A member recently wrote me and said they have seen these items, mono and diglycerides listed in some packaged products and wanted to know what they were.   And, should they be avoiding them.

Well, let me explain, but it takes a little chemistry to understand what these are.


Mono and diglyceride's are fatty acids.

A mono-glyceride is a single fatty acid that is attached to a glycerol molecule.  Hence the name mono, meaning one, and glyceride, for the glycerol molecule. A di-glyceride is where 2 fatty acids are attached to  a glycerol molecule.   Di meaning two. 


Fats (or triglycerides) are made up of 3 fatty acids (tri) on a glycerol molecule.


These mono and diglcerides are often added to foods to add texture, creaminess, and they act as emulsifiers and help to blend together certain ingredients such as oil and water which would not otherwise blend well.   They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections. Or in other words, junk foods.


In general, they appear in such small amounts that they are probably relatively harmless.  However, it is possible for these fatty acids to be either saturated, hydrogenated and/or contain trans fats, and not be labeled as such. So, there is no way to know for sure.   And, they may not always be counted in the caloric content of the item.


Therefore, the best advice may be to avoid them completely.

However,  if you are following my guidelines for packaged products, they you probably have nothing to worry about.  The reasons is these mono and diglycerides are not going to be in any product that you find that meets my guidelines.  If you do find one, be sure to let me know.

 In Health



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