Triglycerides are the main constituents of vegetable oil (typically more unsaturated) and animal fats (typically more saturated). They are formed by combining glycerol with three molecules of fatty acid to form ester bonds. The fatty acid composition of oils is commercially important, for example, high oleic acid content found in olive oils, has been implicated in a reduced risk of heart disease. Linoleic acid found in sunflower oils, is an essential nutritional fatty acid. High levels of these fatty acids can increase the commercial value of an oil, whereas excessive amount of linolenic acid can decrease the value since it is more susceptible to oxidation and problems with rancidity.
Our cryogen-free benchtop NMR spectrometer, Pulsar, can be used to give important structural and constituent information of edible oils, such as the level of unsaturation. It can also be used as a screening tool to classify edible oils and to determine the presence of adulterants.