Quantitative Phase Analysis of Complex Fats during Crystallization

Arita-Merino, Naomi; Valenberg, Hein van; Gilbert, Eliot Paul; Scholten, Elke


The quantitative study of polymorphism in fats is
complicated due to their complex composition and consequent
intricate crystallization behavior. We aimed to illustrate how
quantitative phase analysis can be performed in crystallizing
complex fats. The advantages of our proposed method are that
detailed structural information or internal standards are not needed
and that it can be applied even to wide-angle X-ray diffraction
patterns with a high noncrystalline (liquid fat) contribution and
overlapping peaks. Diffraction patterns of palm oil and anhydrous
milk fat during crystallization were decomposed by fitting a model
based on Pearson type VII functions. From the decomposed patterns, the contribution of each phase was quantified as a function of time. Each contribution to the pattern was then converted to its mass fraction using response factors derived from the corresponding solid fat content, which was measured using low-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). This approach allowed us to quantify the evolution of liquid and polymorphic phases during the early crystallization of complex fats and, for the first time, to quantify coexisting α, β′, and β phases. This method is flexible enough for fats with diverse triacylglycerol profiles yet detailed enough to quantify phase transitions in a system as complex as milk fat