Emulsions containing optimum cow milk fat and canola oil mixtures replicate the lipid self-assembly of human breast milk during digestion

Andrew J. Clulow, Syaza Y. Binte Abu Bakar, Malinda Salim, Cameron J. Nowell, Adrian Hawley, Ben J. Boyd

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Hypothesis: The digestion of different milks and milk substitutes leads to the formation of a variety of self-assembled lipid structures, with the structuring of human milk being paramount for infant nutrition. It was hypothesised that mixing cow milk fat rich in medium/long-chain lipids with canola oil rich in long-chain unsaturated lipids would replicate the structuring of human milk by balancing lipid chain lengths and saturation levels. Experiments: Emulsions of cow milk fat/canola oil mixtures were prepared in two ways – by pre-mixing ghee and canola oil before dispersing them and by dispersing canola oil directly into commercial cow milk. Small angle X-ray scattering combined with titration of the fatty acids produced during digestion allowed for the correlation of dynamic lipid self-assembly with the extent of lipid digestion. Laser light scattering was used to show that the particle sizes in the digesting mixtures were similar and coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy (CARS) microscopy was used to confirm the mixing of canola oil into cow milk fat globules. Findings: As the amount of long-chain unsaturated canola oil lipids in the mixtures increased, the lipid self-assembly tended towards colloidal structures of greater interfacial curvature. When the ratio of cow milk fat to canola oil lipids was 1:1 (w/w), the digesting lipids assembled themselves into the same liquid crystalline structures as human breast milk. This observation was independent of the method used to mix the lipids, with CARS microscopy indicating uniform mixing of the canola oil into cow milk upon ultrasonication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-691
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021


  • Canola oil
  • CARS microscopy
  • Lipid digestion
  • Lipid self-assembly
  • Milk
  • Small-angle X-ray scattering

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