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Triacylglycerol and triterpene ester composition of shea nuts from seven African countries.

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The compositions of the triacylglycerol (TAG) and triterpene ester (TE) fractions of the kernel fats (n-hexane extracts; shea butter) of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa; Sapotaceae) were determined for 36 samples from seven sub-Saharan countries, i.e., Cote d' Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad, Sudan, and Uganda. The principal TAGs are stearic-oleic-stearic (SOS; mean 31.2%), SOO (27.7%), and OOO (10.8%). The TE fractions contents are in the range of 0.5-6.5%, and contain -amyrin cinnamate (1c; mean 29.3%) as the predominant TE followed by butyrospermol cinnamate (4c; 14.8%), -amyrin acetate (1a; 14.1%), lupeol cinnamate (3c; 9.0%), -amyrin cinnamate (2c; 7.6%), lupeol acetate (3a; 7.2%), butyrospermol acetate (4a; 5.8%), and -amyrin acetate (2a; 4.9%). Shea kernel fats from West African provenances contained, in general, higher levels of high-melting TAGs such as SOS, and higher amount of TEs than those from East African provenances. No striking regional difference in the composition of the TE fractions was observed.

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